LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - In a unanimous vote, school board members for Jefferson County Public Schools approved a property tax hike of three percent. It's the first time the district has increased property taxes in five years.
The previous tax rate was 70.4 cents per every $100 of property. It was increased to 72.5 cents during Tuesday's school board meeting.
For a home valued at $150,000, that's a $31 annual increase.
Interim State Education Commissioner Dr. Wayne Lewis criticized the board for not taking advantage of all the funds they could have. He urged them to raise property taxes.
"When this is identified as deficiencies for us we have to address those," Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said.
The board can adjust the rate annually if it doesn't increase the revenue by more than four percent.
Since 2011 the board has decreased rates several times.
Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer Cordelia Hardin said a decrease in 2011 alone cost them $143 million over the years.
Now the district is hoping a three percent tax increase will generate $20 million in a year.
"I think it's important to have well trained and well educated citizens here," Chris Harmer said.
Harmer supports the tax increase that would pay for new construction, elementary school art teachers, incentive pay for teachers at struggling schools, and the district's racial equity policy.
"I don't think JCPS has been a good steward of the money we have given them," Theresa Camoviam said.
She is against the increase and believes the board could have looked into other funding sources.
"They need to improve the quality of their service and they need to do it at a reasonable price just like everybody else," Camoviam said.
Property owners will notice the tax increase when they get their bills in October.