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McCracken schools cut tax rates

BY GENEVIEVE POSTLETHWAIT gpostlethwait@paducahsun.com

The McCracken and Graves boards of education set real estate and tangible property tax rates for fiscal 2015 on Thursday night.

McCracken County voted to decrease its rate to 49.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. Finance Director Johanna Dejarnett told the board that due to the slight increase in assessed value of real estate and tangible property in the county, the district could decrease its tax rate while maintaining roughly the same amount of revenue for the schools. The 49.5 cent rate was the "compensation rate," one of four rate options sent to McCracken County by the Kentucky Department of Education.

"Most folks in the county are making do with the same or less money this year as last year," board member Rick Straub said. "As far as I'm concerned, we can do the same. Even though it's technically a tax reduction on our end, we're breaking even."

Board member Michael Hatton echoed his sentiments. "Any opportunity we get to be more frugal with our money and to try to give any kind of tax break at all to our citizens, I think that's important as well," he said.

The board voted unanimously for the compensating rate of 49.5 cents.

In Mayfield, Graves voted to increase its rate to 39.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, an increase from last year's 38.3 cents. According to Superintendent Kim Harrison the raise will produce approximately $170,000 in added revenue for Graves schools while maintaining the lowest rate in the Purchase, and the ninth lowest rate among Kentucky's 173 districts.

Only one person spoke against raising the tax rate, Harrison said.

In Paducah, McCracken County High School Principal Michael Ceglinski gave the board a recap of the school's first year, full of positive reports including the highest average ACT scores the district has achieved. With a district average of a 20.3 composite score, 20.0 for English, 19.5 for math, 20.7 for reading and 20.5 for science, the school beat its own bests as well as state averages.

McCracken County also approved a plan for repaying its assessment for workers compensation claims from the failed Kentucky School Boards Insurance Trust. KSBIT, which provided workers' compensation and property and liability insurance for school districts across the state, became insolvent and shut down in June 2013, leaving a $60 million debt for participating districts. McCracken chose to pay 25 percent of its $112,032 owed by Aug. 31 and pay off the remaining balance in equal, interest-free payments over the next six years.

Graves County received bills from KSBIT for property and liability insurance as well as workers compensation totaling $592,118 ($366,568 for workers compensation, $225,549 for property and liability insurance). The board approved a plan to pay 25 percent of its workers compensation bill by Aug. 31 and pay the remaining debt in equal, interest-free payments over the next six years. The district will pay 40 percent of its property and liability bill by Aug. 31 and pay the remaining balance in equal, interest-free payments over the next two years.

Contact Genevieve Postlethwait, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or at gpostlethwait@paducahsun.com.

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