Taxpayers scoff at paying more for schools


by Adam Walser

Posted on August 28, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 28 at 6:43 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- If you are a homeowner in Jefferson county, your taxes are going up, thanks to a vote from the Jefferson County Board of Education Monday night.
The vote was unanimous Monday night to raise taxes by $23 a year on a $100,000 home.
Most of the money will be used to pay for programs which are no longer being funded by state and federal programs.
But the frequent use of the board's ability to raise taxes has some taxpayers upset.
The additional tax revenues will go to pay for $17 million dollars in textbooks, programs and administrative costs that current tax rates wouldn't support.
“Each dollar we spend is an investment that leads to student achievement.,” said Dewey Hensley, Chief Academic Officer at JCPS. “That makes our students college and career ready. We believe it's an investment in our entire community.”
Over the past five years, the school board has voted to raise the tax rate five times.
The owner of a $100,000 would have paid $625 in school property taxes in 2008.
Taxes on the same home are now $700.
It's a total tax increase of nearly 11 percent in five years, without a referendum by taxpayers.
“The school board can raise taxes on everyone up to four percent every year,: said WHAS Radio talk show host Mandy Connell, talking to her audience today.
Several callers had sharp criticism for the school board.
“The last 3 or 4 years, I haven't had a raise where I work. In three or four years, that adds up,” said one caller.
“With a budget of over a billion dollars a year, why do they need more? Why don't they spend their money wisely?” said another.
“The people should be over there at the Van Hoose Education Center, just rallying around,” said a third caller.
The school board has not exercised their option to raise taxes the full amount allowed by law every year.
But since 2003, taxes on a $100,000 home have increased more than 17 percent, meaning that homeowners have to pay $124 more a year than they did back then.
The Family Foundation of Kentucky has criticized the tax increase, saying the increases in recent years have not been accompanied by greater academic achievements by JCPS.
That group advocates charter schools in Kentucky.