Knox Boe votes 3-2 to raise property taxes . . . twice

Gertrude Smith Knox County Schools Finance Officer
Gertrude Smith
Knox County Schools Finance Officer

Additional 6.3-cent tax rate subject to recall

Knox County Schools Finance Officer Gertrude Smith explained to the Knox County School Board Tuesday that the FY 2014 Unaudited Annual Financial Report showed a deficit of $1,388,947 over the previous fiscal year.

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In order to make up the difference, the board voted 3-2 to set the 2014-15 personal property and real estate tax at the compensating tax rate, which was originally 49 cents for the school’s Fiscal Year 2013-14, and will be 50.4 cents for the Fiscal Year 2014-15).

In addition to the compensating rate, the board voted to add a “recallable nickel” (or 6.3 cent) tax that can be used for building, renovations, construction and bond interest, and principal payments for the proposed Knox County Area Technology Center.

In other words, the compensating rate will add $14 per $100,000 of real property value. The recallable nickel tax will add an additional $63 per $100,000 real property value over and above the compensating rate for a total of a $77 increase per $100,000 of value for every proper owner in Knox County.

Originally board member Gordon Hinkle made a motion to approve the compensating tax rate increase. As there was no second, the motion did not pass.

A second motion was made by board member Merrill Smith and was seconded by member Dexter Smith to set the compensating rate of 50.4 cents per $100, as well as the Recallable Nickel rate of 6.3 cents per $100 for a total of 56.7 cents per $100.00

Board member Gordon Hinkle expressed his disapproval of the tax increase.

“We gotta be good stewards of their money,” he said. We can’t keep taxing the public. They’re tapped out.”

Board member Sam Watts agreed.

“I couldn’t be for taxing the working man cause they’re taxed enough,” he said. ”

But if they could put a tax on something everybody paid, then I could be for that tax.”

Board members Charles Merida, Dexter Smith and Merrill Smith voted yes on the motion, while Gordon Hinkle and Sam Watts voted no.

The public now has 45 days from Tuesday’s meeting to file a petition with the county clerk protesting the tax increase. The number of names on the petition must be equal to at least 10 percent of the total number of votes cast in the last presidential election, which would be about 1,100 signatures. These signatures must be legitimate qualified voters within the Knox County School Board jurisdiction.