JCPS board votes unanimously against raising property taxes - News, Weather & Sports

JCPS board votes unanimously against raising property taxes

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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The JCPS school board voted unanimously Monday not to raise the property tax rate for the 2014-15 school year.

JCPS board members defended their own knowledge of the budget while publicly backing Superintendent Donna Hargens, who had recommended no tax rate increase.

[PREVIOUS STORY: JCPS superintendent to recommend no tax rate increase]

The vote marked the first time in seven years that the school board hasn't voted to raise property taxes, and came despite warnings from district administrators about a shortfall in the next two years because of spending increases mandated by the state.

“It's not anything that we have done lately, but it's not to say there isn't a reason we couldn't do it,” board chairwoman Diane Porter said, “as long as we don't lose focus from the students.”

The property tax rate for JCPS will remain at 71 cents per $100 of assessed property, which equals $710 dollars for a $100,000 home.

Multiple board members criticized state Auditor Adam Edelen, who in May said the board lacked knowledge to question Hargens' administration about the budget.

“We have board meetings two times a month – we can't possibly be the managers of this budget,” board member Linda Duncan said. “Yet, Mr. Edelen implied and stated that we are the managers of this budget. We are not."

The board could've voted to raise the property tax rate by up to 4 percent, or about $20 on a property assessed at $100,000.

Despite the decision, JCPS will likely still receive about $4 million more from local property owners because of higher assessments, leading to $402.4 million in total property revenue.

Assessments for 2014 aren't finished yet, but they historically have gone up.

Ten people, including two Jefferson County Teachers Association members and a handful of activists and parents, spoke in favor of a tax increase. Five members of the public were opposed. 

“It sends a problematic message when we're talking to legislators and we say we need more funding, and they say, ‘I don't think you do. The school board isn't even levying the amount of money they're allowed to,'” said Brent McKim, the teachers' union president.

Opponents criticized the school board for raising property taxes each of the past six years.

“Your solution to every problem is to reach into our pockets,” said Tulio Touriho. “For years, you've increased our taxes. Every month, I pay $300 more in part because of your tax increases.”

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