Facilities Tax Information
The following information is being provided to answer the most frequently asked questions regarding the facilities tax:
Identifying the needs of the district
Every four years, the school district forms a district Local Planning Committee (LPC), which consists of teachers, administrators, a board of education member, parents and community members. The LPC is charged with developing a plan that identifies the facility needs to be addressed by the district over a four year period. This plan guides the board in prioritizing available funds so that items on the facility plan can be completed. In both the 2013 and 2017 facility plans, the LPC identified a new high school as the number one priority. The cost of a new high school would be between 46 and 47 million dollars and the total cost for all items listed in the plan is nearly 56 million dollars. This total is considered to be our “unmet need”.
Why is a new high school needed?
Education has changed dramatically since 1964 (the year WCHS opened) and our students deserve the most current learning space we can provide. A new high school would bring expanded opportunities in academics, the arts and athletics, thus allowing our students to be even more competitive. Features such as new science and engineering labs, collaborative spaces for students and teachers and an auditorium/theatre would all be included in a new facility. A sixty-one acre tract of land adjacent to Woodford County Middle School was purchased in 2012 for the purpose of a new high school. This 95 acre campus housing both WCHS and WCMS would allow our schools to share facilities and resources.
Where are we now?
Bonding capacity is the amount the school district is eligible to bond (or borrow) to complete new construction or renovation projects. This bonding capacity is determined by our outstanding debt as well as our projected revenue. Our district currently has a bonding capacity of 13.8 million dollars, far less than the cost of a new high school.
Why is our bonding capacity only 13.8 million?
Since 2004, the district has completed five major projects at a cost of approximately 34 million dollars. These projects include construction of the middle school (completed in 2004), the Simmons renovation project (completed in 2005), the Huntertown renovation project (completed in 2008) and the Northside and Southside HVAC projects (completed in 2016). Our bonding capacity is determined in large part by our outstanding debt on these projects.
Can we increase our bonding potential to address our unmet need including a new high school?
In order to increase our bonding capacity (the amount we could borrow) to meet our unmet need, including a new high school, we must raise our revenue. Methods available to increase revenue include an occupational tax, raising our current assessment rate or a facilities tax. A facilities tax is the preferred method compared to the other options for several reasons- the revenue raised is restricted and can only be used for new construction or renovations projects; it allows the district to apply for state matching funds; and it will raise the needed revenue immediately.
How much of a tax is needed and what will it generate?
A 5.5 cent facilities tax would generate an additional 1.5 million dollars each year and raise our bonding capacity to between 45 and 53 million dollars. This would allow the district to build a new high school and have additional money that can be applied to other projects identified on the facilities plan. If, in addition to the local revenue raised, the district were to receive state matching funds, this would only increase our bonding potential. The exact amount of a state match is not known at this time, but it would not be a one to one match.
How will the tax impact a property owner in Woodford County?
If a home is valued at $150,000, the increase on the tax bill would be $82.50 or $6.88 per month. For a home valued at $200,000, the tax bill would go up by $110 a year or $9.17 per month.
What happens if no facilities tax is enacted?
If additional revenue is not generated, our bonding capacity would gradually increase as we pay down our current debt. At the current rate, the district would not be able to address our top priority need of a new high school until at least 2028. The actual date could be later if other bonded facility projects were needed between now and then. Thus, our number one priority identified on the last two facility plans could not be considered for at least 11 more years.
If a new high school is built, what happens to the current high school building?
Because the current high school has been well maintained, the Local Planning Committee recommended utilizing the building for a variety of functions. Those include the central office, the alternative school, adult education programs and other district wide services. One of the most exciting potential uses of the building could be for a new technical pathway that would help prepare our students for the manufacturing and logistics jobs here in Woodford County.
Are there architectural documents or designs of the new high school?
There are no finalized plans for the school at this time. The expense and time necessary to design a project of this size is large. We cannot expend those resources, until we know that the funds for the project will be available.
Here is a summary of how we arrive at estimates of the size and cost of the new school.
The process to build a school is regulated by the Kentucky Department of Education. It provides a model school plan for new high schools in its Facilities Planning Manual. See page 48 for the high school model. As you can see, the KDE sets a square footage estimate depending on the capacity of the school. The KDE also regulates how big of school we can build. When we discussed this project with them, we asked for a school with a capacity of 1,500 students. They did not allow this but have allowed a building for 1,400 students - about 10% above our current enrollment. We know it is a source of frustration for the community, and us, that we cannot build a larger school, but again the KDE has the authority to approve the capacity of the new school.
Our architect gave us an estimated cost of 46-47 million dollars for this size of a high school.
Will the tax allow the district to do renovations to the current high school?
Yes, the facilities tax will generate enough bonding potential to address most of the items on the facilities plan. If a new high school is constructed, any renovations to the current high school could also be done in phases to be as efficient with our dollars as possible.
Would a certified petition automatically place the facilities tax on the ballot?
No, the board of education would have three options. One is to vote to rescind the tax, the second is to vote to place on the ballot in November and the third is to vote to have a special election. A special election must occur between 35 and 45 days after the county clerk certifies the petition.
If you have questions that you would like to direct specifically to our Board of Education members or the Superintendent, please do so by utilizing the email addresses below:
Chairman Ambrose Wilson IV, Vice Chair Debby Edelen, Board Member Margie Cleveland, Board Member Sherri Springate, Board Member Karen Brock, Superintendent Scott Hawkins
You may view the video of the first public forum regarding the facilities tax below.