Nickel taxes and newcomers
Kentucky School Advocate
By Madelynn Coldiron
Shortly before the Nov. 8 election, the Marion County district became the envy of any school system that has ever tried to get voters to approve a tax.
The local newspaper, the Lebanon Enterprise, devoted almost its entire Oct. 26 edition to support of the district’s proposed nickel tax, which was on the ballot after petitioners forced a recall. There were stories detailing the inadequacies of school buildings, articles quoting local business and industry leaders about the need for the tax, and more.
Whether that or other factors tipped the scales, the nickel tax was approved by a comfortable margin – 54 percent of voters favored it.
The irony is that the three incumbent school board members who were part of the unanimous board vote to pass the tax were defeated in their bid for re-election. Among them was DeLane Pinkston, who said that, for him, the outcome was not unexpected.
“It was a little disappointing,” he said. “But you know, when you’ve been on a school board 36 years, you’re thankful, really. That doesn’t happen a lot.”
Pinkston said a “combination of things” were at work in the race, including some holdover from past issues. And, he noted, he wasn’t the only longtime school board member to lose a re-election bid in Kentucky.
“I’m very happy with the progress we’ve made in Marion County. I wish them only the best,” he said. “We needed the tax and we needed some new schools.”
Marion wasn’t the only district with a nickel tax referendum on the local ballot: Hancock. Washington and Trimble county boards also faced recall of the nickel taxes they had approved. All failed, but the Hancock County measure came closest to passing, 2,040 to 1,901 votes. Superintendent Kyle Estes told the local newspaper the high turnout generated by the presidential election probably worked against the tax, as it drew some voters who were likely not familiar with the issue.
The defeat in the other two districts was by a wider margin; the tax was rejected by 54 percent of voters in Trimble County and 77 percent in Washington County.