Since 2003, 49 Kentucky school districts have sought and received what is known as a “recallable nickel” tax, as of the 2015-16 fiscal year, according to the Kentucky Department of Education
You may ask why a school district needs the revenues from a recallable nickel tax. In Hancock County, where our board currently is going through this process, our focus is on aging facilities, and preparing our kids for college, workforce and life. Hancock County’s experienced industrial experts verify that evaluating our schools and how they perform is always a major factor in where industries choose to locate.
Here are the 10 points to ponder in levying a recallable nickel:
1. Timing is a critical issue in your planning process. As property assessment increases, the compensating tax rate decreases.
2. We must take care of our own. The state is no longer providing emergency funds to districts without the nickel tax.
3. It is worth the fight. Whatever the outcome, the topic is worth bringing before the public for the sake of students. Any district that does not have a second nickel is falling behind its neighbors in providing the best resources to students.
4. Be prepared for a fight. No matter how supportive your community may be of your pursuit of educating our youth, when it comes to asking for more money, you will wake up a crowd of opposition. Just because they trust you with their kids, does not mean they will trust you with their money!
5. Your words will be used against you. As much as you might try to educate the public, there will be some that will make every effort to distort the truth and dilute information in an effort to cause confusion and doubt.
6. Make sure you present the nickel with a goal in mind. There should be a concrete and preferably short-term gain for the public by passing the nickel. This goal needs to be far-reaching and preferably will touch more than one section of the district.
7. Have a clear and concise message. Make sure you identify your key points and make every effort to get those to the community. Consider enlisting help from a school public relations professional.
8. If a petition is filed against the nickel, voter turnout becomes the key. You must identify your key supporters and individualize your effort of getting your supporters to the poll.
9. You must be prepared for any outcome. Voting, taxes and politics are topics that can bring out the worst in people. This issue could result in you losing your board seat. You must embrace this concept as you enter the nickel tax discussion as a board.
10. Nickel tax funds are restricted and cannot be used for anything other than new facilities, construction or major repairs of existing facilities, and significant updates to current facilities. The funds can never be used for salaries, general fund or instructional materials.
Reality check: Why do we serve as a board member? Is it to be an ambassador of kids or because of a personal agenda or a political view of “No tax increase at any cost”? Personally I’m concerned about the future of our kids. As a board member I must be focused on forward thinking into our needs for the 21st century, regardless of the political consequences.
We need to work smarter, not harder, but another thing is certain: Local communities must play a supportive role in the success of their schools because the state government is cutting resources.