The Bellevue Independent Schools Board of Education is considering the approval of a recallable nickel tax. While voting for a tax increase is never the preferred method of generating revenue, board members realize our facilities are getting older and that we have no long-range funding mechanism to renovate or replace them. In order to finance the school buildings our children need and deserve, a nickel tax must be considered.
Q. What is a “Recallable” Nickel?
A. The “Recallable” Nickel is equivalent to approximately $.05 per $100 of assessed value for real & tangible property that is set aside by each school district for capital construction projects. This nickel tax is not required of local districts. It is “voluntary” from the standpoint that it is not imposed unless done so by the local board of education, per statute.
Q. What is the benefit of a Recallable Nickel Tax for Bellevue Independent Schools?
A. Historically, the “recallable” nickel is equalized by legislation, supplementing the local effort by taxpayers. This tax essentially doubles the school district’s ability to bond construction projects.
Q. Why does Bellevue Independent Schools need a Nickel Tax?
A. The goal of the board of education is to provide the best educational environment for students. Under our current structure, the board would never be able to improve our current facilities. Grandview Elementary is over 50 years old and Bellevue High School is almost 90 years old. The roofs and HVAC systems are near end of life. In addition, spaces need to be updated to match the needs of a 21st century learner; spaces that contribute to collaboration and deeper thinking.
Q. What will this cost me as a tax-paying citizen?
A. In Bellevue, the Recallable Nickel Tax is equivalent of approximately $.056 per $100 of assessed value. This amounts to an $84 increase in property tax per year on a house assessed at $150,000. The actual tax rate that districts levy to produce the 5-cent equivalent tax is slightly greater than 5 cents because the calculation takes into consideration that the tax is only applied to real estate and personal property, not to motor vehicles, and also adjusts for the fact that districts will collect less than 100 percent of the tax.
Q. What will this do to individuals on fixed incomes?
A. This tax does not affect the Homestead Exemption Act. KRS 132.810 (1)(2) provides for some properties to be exempt from taxation or taxed at a lesser amount than the assessed value. There is an application process to determination qualification for any of the exemptions.
Q. Is this why other school districts have upgraded their facilities and we have not?
A. Partly. Other independent school districts have a much higher property tax rate. In addition, some have the benefit of a utility tax and/or the recallable nickel tax. The chart below shows why Bellevue Independent Schools has been unable to engage in facility upgrades.
DISTRICT NAME PROPERTY TAX RATE Extra Nickel? Utility Tax?
|Ft. Thomas Independent||104.4||Yes||Yes|
|Silver Grove Independent||122.0||No||Yes|
Q. Will this tax take away resources from the classroom?
A. The Nickel and Recallable Nickel are classified as “restricted” funds and cannot be used for anything but construction, debt service (bonding projects), or other projects as outlined on the District Facilities Plan. The Nickel Taxes do not affect Fund 1, which is where a majority of instructional components in the classroom are funded.
Q. Why not just cut funding from other areas?
A. There is no extra funding in the budget. Over the last four years, the board has approved budgets that have cut overhead and administrative costs along with non-essential personnel. The superintendent has been adamant about retaining teaching staff to ensure lower ratios and maintaining instructional resources for children. While there are maintenance accounts in the budget, new construction or renovation is rarely possible. Even if cuts could be made, it would not provide the type of funding necessary for facility upgrades.
Q. Why should I support the Nickel Tax if I do not have children in school?
A. There is a positive relationship between home values and the quality of the local public schools. Bellevue Independent Schools has experienced tremendous growth in achievement over the last few years. Home values soaring at the same time is not a coincidence. Investing in public education is an investment in the community. Most importantly, children deserve the best we can give them.
Q. What if I have questions?
A. The Bellevue Independent Schools Board of Education, along with Robb Smith, Superintendent, will be hosting an open forum on Monday, April 22, 2019 at 6:00 at Bellevue High School.