Petition tries to stop levy passed by school board

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Associated Press

Posted on January 12, 2013 at 7:01 PM

CATLETTSBURG, Ky. (AP) — Residents in eastern Kentucky have begun a petition in an effort to stop a utility tax approved by the school board.

Boyd County Clerk Debbie Jones told The Independent (http://bit.ly/VIUIre) that petitioners have until Feb. 11 to get 147 qualified voters in the Fairview Independent School District to sign the petition if they wish to challenge the levy.

The school board approved the 3 percent utility tax last month, saying it could bring in between $300,000 and $700,000 annually and help pay to make needed improvements and additions to facilities.

The district is one of only 13 in the state that doesn't already tax utilities. School officials said many districts passed a utility tax in the 1970s when voters weren't able to recall it.

Jones said if enough signatures are gathered, the issue would go to voters in a special election in which they would vote for or against the tax, which was approved on all utilities including water, sewer, electric, gas, phones, cable and satellite.

Jones said five residents signed an affidavit in order to begin gathering signatures.

"They took the oath to abide by the statues gathering these signatures and they have been advised of that," said Jones. "They are responsible for circulating this petition."

Fairview Board Chairman John Burke said the petition was expected.

"That is their right," he said. "They are going to get the petition signed and we'll go forward at that point."

Burke said the board wants to hold a public forum to get more information out about the tax. He said board members firmly believe the levy is necessary.

"We don't have the revenue coming in from the state," said Burke. "Our student body is growing every year and the school is falling apart and we need a plan. We have to have some work done to the school. We are thinking that this tax levy will also give us more bonding capacity, and hopefully we can build a new high school. That is our goal."

Jones said if enough signatures are verified and the school board doesn't rescind the tax, a special election will be held sometime in March.

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Information from: The Independent, http://www.dailyindependent.com

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