Friday, March 16, 2001

Beechwood asking for less

Proposed school levy exceeded state limit

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT MITCHELL — Beechwood Independent Schools are scaling back a proposed tax levy because of state restrictions.

        The district had planned to seek an 18-cent increase in a May special election; however, the state will allow Beechwood to raise its rates by only 14 cents.

        That 4-cent loss means the 1,000-student district would get about $136,000 less a year if the levy is approved, which officials say could hurt programs.

        “It doesn't make sense,” Beechwood Superintendent Fred Bassett said. “It's inequitable.”

        The Kentucky Department of Education's funding system limits district tax rates. But the limit varies by district.

        Even with a 14-cent increase, six other Northern Kentucky school districts would have higher tax rates than Beechwood.

        Blaming a lack of state funding, Beechwood wanted to increase real-estate and tangible property taxes by 18 cents, from 53.5 cents to 71.5 cents per $100 assessed value. That increase would add $600,000 to the district's $6 million budget.

        Under the state's funding system, however, Beechwood's rates can't exceed 67.5 cents.

        The district will hold the special election May 8, seeking the smaller amount. School boards must have voter approval to increase tax revenue by more than 4 percent.

        Beechwood receives one of the lowest state funding allocations, largely because of the district's high property values.

        In the past 10 years, the district's state funding has increased by about 28 percent, which Mr. Bassett says has not been enough to keep up with rising costs.

        Beechwood's local revenue, however, has increased by nearly 90 percent in that time.


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