City's school tax rate takes a small drop
“This is the first time I’ve ever gotten to vote for a tax decrease in 14 years,” board member Danette Humphrey said. “I’m excited.”
As Humphrey and Superintendent Donald Shively explained, for years the district opted for the compensating rate, which raises or lowers taxes only enough to keep revenue steady year to year. Some years that meant the board could leave the tax rate unchanged. In years when the city’s property assessment dropped, it meant raising the district’s tax rate to avoid cutting school staff or services. For example, this time last year a significant drop in the city’s property assessments and a state-mandated 2 percent raise created a sizable shortfall for the district. For the first time in years, the board opted for the maximum 4 percent increase in revenue allowable by state law to help cover rising costs.
This year’s rate of 79.9 cents per $100 of assessed value is the first tax cut the board’s made in at least the past 15 years.
The district’s compensating rate of 78.1 would have produced an estimated $8,056,223 in revenue. The adopted rate of 79.9 cents is projected to bring in $8,241,898.
“We’re in a fortunate situation this year with the assessment, that we can lower our tax rate and still generate more money, more revenue for this next fiscal year,” Shively said. “This rate will allow us to invest in our Paducah Pathways project that’s focused on aligning our curriculum to the workforce needs outlined in Paducah Economic Development’s strategic plan. The rate that I’m recommending to the board is an investment in building a better Paducah as we go forward.”
About $110,675 of the $185,675 in additional revenue will go into instruction and support of the Paducah Pathways program. About $10,000 will go toward the cost of tax collections, $15,000 toward the building fund, $25,000 toward transportation and $25,000 toward facility maintenance needs.
Shively also explained that when a district’s assessment goes up as in the case of Paducah this year, the state’s contribution goes down. Some of the additional revenue this year will go toward covering that loss.
“What (Shively) is recommending I feel makes sense,” Board Chairman Carl LeBuhn said before casting his vote. “I do think the superintendent and administrators in our district have been working very hard to be financially efficient. We’re seeing improvement in our test scores, and we’re seeing an ex- pansion of the services that are being offered by the district. I really feel that the partnerships that are developing are going to help the workforce of Paducah and keep our excellent students in this region as we move forward."