Knox School Board votes 3-2 in favor of ‘nickel tax’

The Knox County School Board listened intently to what community members had to say about the recallable nickel tax last Thursday, but at the end of it all, there would be no final decision or vote taken until Monday.

As in the first vote taken on Aug. 26, the vote was once again 3-2 in favor of a 50.4 cent compensating tax rate with an additional 6.3 cent recallable nickel tax. Board members Dexter Smith, Merrill Smith, and Charles Merida voted yes. Board members Sam Watts and Gordon Hinkle once again voted no.

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.

Hinkle explained his decision, “I know this is the hand that was dealt us, but I’m a firm believer we can be a little more proactive, and go back in May or April and figure out what we may want to do tax wise, present a case to the taxpayer on where we stand financially, and allow the public to give us some feedback. Then when we have to make a decision, we can make a conscious decision versus the way we’re doing it now.”

“We were elected by the public, we gave them that choice,” said board member Charles Merida. Charles Merida voted yes; however, he added, “We live in a democracy. We should let each and every member of Knox County make this decision. Whatever decision they make, I will support 110%.”

Although the board has passed the tax rates as they stand, there is still a petition being circulated throughout Knox County to stop the recallable nickel tax. The petition needs about 1,100 qualified Knox County voters’ signatures to vote down the tax by the Oct. 10 deadline. If the petition goes through, the nickel tax would then have to wait to be put on next year’s regular election ballot or the school could hold a common school election at its own expense to allow the community to vote on the nickel tax.