More than 30 citizens voiced their concerns and opinions on the “recallable nickel” at a recent public hearing held by the Bell County Board of Education.
The “recallable nickel,” if approved, will increase the tax rate on personal property to 52.4 cents per $100 of assessed value. For every $5,000 of assessment, an additional $2.50 would be added to a property tax bill.
The “recallable nickel” assessment does not affect motor vehicles.
The “nickel” has been requested due to numerous unmet facility needs within the district, school officials have said.
Several building additions and renovations are needed at Yellow Creek Elementary School because of an increase in student enrollment. There are several improvements needed at Bell Central and Bell High School. Numerous other building projects are listed on the facility plan, including renovations at the central administrative office building.
School District Director of Finance Steve Silcox said the additional nickel can generate $4 million in bonding capacity and $8,370,000 with state equalization.
Joe Nance, a fiscal agent from Ross Sinclair and Associates, said the school district has $1.3 million in bonding potential without the nickel. Nance said if nothing is done, it would be 10 years before the majority of the bonds are paid off, with an opportunity to increase bonding potential.
“(Schools) who have extra nickels have great facilities,” said Nance, referring to the process best known across the state as the recallable nickel.
Silcox said the reason bonding capacity is so low results from the current bonding capacity being tied up on the schools under renovation, including the new vocational school. According to Silcox, the only way to increase bonding capacity is by increasing revenue locally.
“I would not be asking for this nickel if there was another way to (meet the facility needs),” said Superintendent Yvonne Gilliam. “The board is trying to make sure we give the children of Bell County the best of everything we can possibly give.”
One parent voiced a concern about the length of the tax. Gilliam said she could not state when the tax will be removed because there are several factors that determine it. The school board will be in charge of removing the tax when the time comes.
Anthony Cloud is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted via email at email@example.com or by phone at 606-248-1010 ext.208.