LOUISA, KY (WOWK) — On the ballot Tuesday in Lawrence County, Kentucky, is a school tax levy which, if approved, will raise property taxes, but in return, build a new elementary school.
It doesn’t take long to see that Louisa West Elementary School needs some repairs. On the exterior you can see rusty windows, damaged gutters, and on a rainy day, issues with flooding.
“The back side of this playground holds a lot of water and it’s really soggy,” Principal Matthew Maynard says regarding the flooding issue near their student pickup area.
However, Maynard says the problems go much deeper. Inside the school built in 1954, window panes in classrooms keep falling out and the roof also leaks in rooms that, for that very reason, can no longer be used for classrooms.
As for the bathrooms, Maynard says “The plumbing is really old and they’ve had to come in and cap off some of the plumbing because it collapsed.” The restrooms can be used but on a system of plumbing that needs an upgrade as well.
If you walk through the halls of the nearly 70-year-old building, you’ll notice the structure has settled over the years causing a lot of cracks along the thresholds.
The halls are also on an uphill incline which is not ideal for students with disabilities.
Officials say building a new school is the solution but while part of the money will come from bonds, the rest has to come from taxpayers. This is where the Double Nickel Tax Levy comes in.
“This will get the school system over the next 20 years $11.5 million from local taxes but $13.5 million from state legislators,” Superintendent Dr. Robbie Fletcher says explaining they expect to also receive $15 million in bonds.
“Double Nickel” basically means the increase would be approximately two nickels or 11.8 cents for every $100 worth of the property you own.
For example, if your home is worth around $70,000 to $80,000 you would pay around $80 to $90 on your annual property taxes in addition to what you’re already paying.
As for what the taxpayers think about this possible increase, some are for the levy, saying it’s been a long time coming.
Lawrence County resident Chrystal Moore says “It’s going to suck if it raises but if it helps the schools and stuff like that it will be alright.”
“They need new schools, new locker rooms at the football field, so I’m definitely for it,” local Mike Runyons says.
Safety vestibules for all schools, roof repairs, and many other upgrades are included if the levy passes.
However, some are expressing concerns about the consolidation plan for area schools.
“Some of them would be on buses for three hours plus on one-way trips. So, that’s six hours a day they’d be bused. It’s just too much,” Bill Short says talking about bus schedules keeping children on buses for longer periods.
This item will be on the ballot Tuesday. For a list of polling locations, click here.