Tribune-Courier News Editor
A handful of Marshall County residents spent an hour in debate with the Marshall County Board of Education over a proposed tax hike.
Jill Morris, schools finance officer, said the tax increase would increase revenue by four percent. Residents would pay an additional 1.3 cents in tax per $100 of assessed property value.
“In other words, owners of a house assessed at $100,000 would pay an additional $13 per year,” Morris said.
Morris projected the tax hike would create an additional $228,996 in revenue for the district.
Doug Hall spoke first during a public hearing before the vote at a board meeting on Aug. 23. He identified himself as a poultry farmer that has not seen an increase in proceeds in 5 years. During the same period, he’s watched expenses rise. He asked the board to consider making cuts in expenditures before opting for a tax hike.
Morris said the school contributed $50,000 to a free and reduced lunch program not required by mandates. That figure broke down to an additional $20 for meals for needy children and judicious spending was required.
2012 marks the third year teachers have not received a pay raise. Morris said take-home pay packets will be lighter because employees must now contribute a percentage of salary to insurance and retirement programs. She listed several state grants that had been eliminated from the district budget, including no textbook grants since fiscal year 2007-2008.
“There have been so many cuts from the state level that we’ve had to cut several employees,” Morris said. “We’ve hated to do that.”
Sheila Valentine identified herself as a mother of a fourth grade student at South Marshall Elementary. She called upon the school board to make better use of current money, prioritize spending with a focus on education and to ensure all students have equal access to online educational materials.
School Board member Mike Wyatt said the district’s budget faces challenges from unfunded mandates, reduced state funds and aging buildings. He added he was reluctant to cut educational programs and personnel.
“The worst thing we can do to these children is not educate them,” Wyatt said.
After the hearing, the board entered a regular session and approved the tax hike unanimously.