Because of facility needs throughout the Bell County School District, Superintendent Yvonne Gilliam requests that the board adopt the “recallable nickle,” which is a temporary tax. In a 3-2 vote (Dean Knuckles and Arlene Burnett being the two no votes), the board agreed to the “recallable nickle.”
A public hearing will be held at the administration building on 211 Virginia Avenue in Pineville at 7 p.m. on Sept. 6. At the hearing, the public will be able to comment on the proposed general fund tax levy of 52.4 cents on real property and 52.4 cents on personal property.
Last year the tax levy on real and personal property was 44.8 cents. The “recallable nickle” is responsible for five cents of the increase in the tax rate.
“It is not a permit tax,” said Gilliam. “It is something that you do to meet a need. When the need is met, you get rid of it.”
Burnett suggest though it is possible for the tax to be recalled after needs are met, no other school district has done so.
The money generated from the tax can only be spent on facility needs. Bell County School District Director of Finance, Steve Silcox said the “recallable nickle” can generate $4 million in bonding capacity if it is passed. With state equalization, it could generate $8,370,000 in bonding capacity.
Silcox said this would allow renovation work to be done on Bell County High School and Bell Central. This would also allow the district to address all the HVAC problems throughout the district.
“I can’t fix everything that needs to be fixed on $112,000,” said Gilliam. “I’ve never had to ask for the recallable nickle. Now, to deliver to the kids what we need to … I am asking for the recallable nickle.”
Gilliam mentioned several reasons why the “recallable nickle” is needed.
One issue involved the size of Yellow Creek school center. Gilliam said the school is in need of more classrooms. The school lost five students because of over-crowded classrooms. There has been one teacher sent from Lone Jack to Yellow Creek to help with some of the problem.
“(Yellow Creek) is the part of Bell County that is growing,” said Gilliam. After speaking with the department of education, Gilliam said they will approve an add-on if the district has the bonding potential.
Gilliam also pointed out there are several unmet needs in the sports facilities. She said the students that play sports deserve the best the board can give.
There is a Title IX problem that the district has to address as well. The district has not spent a comparable amount of money on girl sports and boy sports. The district has to find a way to meet the unbalance in spending. If left along, the state can require the suspension of all athletics until the unbalance is corrected.
“We don’t have the dollars right now to begin to address that unbalance,” said Gilliam. “We have to have new revenue.”
Gilliam said if the tax proposal is approved now, the time line will allow the revenue to come in around January.
According to Gilliam, both Pineville and Middlesboro have used the “recallable nickle.” Pineville used the money to build the new gym, while Middlesboro used the money to build Central Auditorium.
Anthony Cloud is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted via email at email@example.com.