Petition submitted to block tax increase meant to boost cash-strapped Muhlenberg schools


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GREENEVILLE, Kentucky — A group that opposes a new utility tax meant to help the cash-strapped Muhlenberg County school district has filed a petition to block the measure from going into place.

The Messenger-Inquirer ( reports a petition with 3,200 signatures was turned in on Monday to the Muhlenberg County Clerk's office. Clerk Gaylan Spurlin says if at least 1,394 signatures are certified as being registered voters, the issue will go on the ballot in November.

The county school board voted in January to add a 3 percent utility tax, hoping it would bring in $1.5 million annually.

The board faces a nearly $5.5 million deficit this fiscal year. In addition to approving the tax, the board also voted to cut teacher salaries by 8 percent and lay off 51 teachers.

Jarrod Douglas, who helped spearhead the petition drive, said he thinks the tax will be voted down when it goes to the ballot. He says he and others don't want more taxes.

"We're in a desperate situation," Douglas said. "They need to find another solution. But if they had proposed a utility tax with a sunset provision after three years, they could probably have sold that."

Superintendent Randy McCarty said part of the issue is that the Tennessee Valley Authority has decreased its in-lieu-of-taxes payments and will continue to do so.

The district has not discussed raising property taxes.

"With all our funds dwindling," McCarty said, "it's going to be tight. We've got to get more revenue coming in. I've made all the cuts I can. If TVA cuts their money any more, I don't know what we're going to do."

The problem, he said, is that the system "has built so many buildings and depleted our reserves."

Information from: Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer,

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