JCPS tax increase: What a judge’s ruling means for voters at the polls

Published: Oct. 31, 2020 at 1:11 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A petition to put a JCPS tax increase on the ballot has been rejected by a judge as the signatures submitted have come under fire.

It means, if the ruling stands, Jefferson County residents will pay an extra $70 a year for a $100,000 home.

Voters will still see the question on the ballot and should still answer. The votes will be retained but not tabulated according to the judge who ruled the petition that got the question on the ballot in the first place is not valid.

“The future is much brighter today, because of this decision,” Brent McKim, the president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association said.

Leaders in the school district celebrated Judge Brian Edwards' Friday announcement, finding thousands of signatures on the petition against the increase were either duplicates or inaccurate and suggesting tampering.

The group “No JCPS Tax Hike” turned over 40,000 signatures in July saying the district was violating state law by passing a more than 4% revenue increase without the vote of taxpayers. The Jefferson County Clerk validated 38,000 signatures, 3,000 more than what’s needed to get the question on the ballot.

However, Edwards ruled there were just over 34,000 valid signatures, about 1,200 less than what is needed. He wrote that “no attempt was made to ensure security or authenticity of electronic signatures” collected online, which were the overwhelming majority.

“We will no longer have schools with condemned third floors, we will no longer have 32 schools that are beyond the end of life, we will no longer have buildings where mold is coming in and principals are lining up trash cans in the hallways to collect rain,” JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said. “Our kids deserve better than that and they’re going to get that, our educators our teachers deserve better than that.”

Pollio said a tax increase would allow the district to finally invest in west Louisville as it should. It’s an extra $54 million for the district the board has already set to go to facilities, resources in highest need schools, racial equality initiatives, and additional student instruction time.

“We will ask the community to hold us accountable for every cent that we spend,” Pollio said. “You will see how this is spent. We will have a dashboard and a yearly report.”

“No JCPS Tax Hike” posted on Facebook this “at least temporarily prevents” taxpayers from having a voice and says “it failed to hold JCPS accountable to the law.” They will appeal and are still asking voters to vote “no”.

The ballots will be stored for the next 22 months.

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