JCPS Board votes 'NO' for property tax hike


by Whitney Harding

Posted on August 25, 2014 at 9:44 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 26 at 12:09 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- It was a smattering of applause, not an uproar this evening as the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) school board unanimously voted to approve the superintendent’s recommendation to not raise property taxes.

“We felt we had enough in our budget to not raise citizen’s taxes for the coming year,” Superintendent Donna Hargens said after the meeting.

Before the meeting the board held a hearing with regards to the tax increase where many voiced their opinions.

“I think raising the property taxes is the most effective investment we can make in our children,” Flaco Aleman said.

“I don’t know anyone who thinks twice before grabbing a coke and a bag of chips at a gas station,” Amanda Brown added on how she believed the added amounts would be. “I don’t know why anyone would think twice about adding that to our children’s education.”

Those who supported the tax increase emphasized it is all about getting more money to the teachers and children, resulting in better educations.

“If it means me paying a little more for my grandbaby to be in a smaller classroom with a person that is being paid and treated with respect then I will pay that,” Janice Rucker said.

Hargens said the budget the school board has laid out already includes initiatives and funds that will help students.

“We’ve got lots of supports in this budget for our students: mental health coordinators, transition centers,” she said. “So, we feel very good that we’ve created an infrastructure of support in this budget.”

The other argument those for the tax increase made was the added funds would help with teacher’s pay.

“If you treat our teachers like garbage, you are going to get garbage every time,” Thomas Pierce said with regards to teachers needing more support from the school board. “When you treat people with disrespect, you get disrespect in return.”

In a conversation after the meeting, Hargens said the school board knows how important it is to support employees, and that this budget does give them some added assistance.

“There is a teacher salary increase already in this budget,” she said.  “The school board knows investing in employees is very important.”

There were those who got up to speak that supported the superintendent’s stance of not increasing property taxes. Tulio Tourinho was particularly passionate saying he was tired of getting nickel and dimed.

“Let me make it abundantly clear that I want every teacher to get a raise,” he said. “However, this comes at the heels from the state auditor saying that JCPS is wasteful.”

James Holland agreed that the money could be found elsewhere than increased taxes.

“We need to find some place to find this money rather than oppressing the taxpayers of Jefferson County,” he said.

Hargens was pleased with the result tonight, but still insisted that while the school board isn’t asking for more tax money from citizens, the education system still needs help from the people of Jefferson County.

“We still need you,” she said. “We need you to volunteer. We need you to become an Everyone Reads volunteer or a clothing assistance program or become a WatchDOG: Dads of Great Students. So, we still need you.”