Thursday, September 11, 2003

Kings waits to broach tax hike

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TWP. - Kings Board of Education members say voters here won't see another school tax issue before next August at the least.

In a work session Tuesday, the board decided to delay another try for voter approval of a bond issue to renovate and expand the Warren County school district's junior and senior high buildings, off Columbia Road.

The board could have chosen to ask voters for increased taxes in March, during the state's presidential primary. But Kings Superintendent Charles Mason pointed out that leaves little time for surveying voters on why the district's last school issue - a 4.5-mill property tax increase that would have raised $43 million for renovations - was rejected in May.

To put a tax issue on the March 2004 ballot, the board would have to agree to do so in December.

"Time is not on our side," said Mason. "We need to find out from the community what they think we should do," he told board members.

The board agreed to survey residents in the Kings district before deciding the timing of returning to voters next year. After March the district could put a tax issue on the August or November 2004 ballots.

Mason said a survey is a key first step in determining both the size and timing of the next school issue.

"It's like taking the temperature of the patient," he said.

Moreover, Mason said, officials need to gauge the impact, if any, on voters from the recent discovery of lead contamination on the Kings senior and junior high school grounds. That discovery has closed the football stadium and practice fields.

School officials have previously said they expect to have to go to voters in 2006 for another property-tax increase to cover an anticipated budget deficit.


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