Some frustrated, confused about Bath County property tax increase

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BATH COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – A tax hike is leaving some people not just angry, but confused as to where to aim their frustration.

“Last year it was $365.68, this year it’s $689.35,” Peggy Jackson said about one of her property tax bills.

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The largest increase on her bill, from last year to this year, is the school district. Jackson says the school board should have done better to avoid a high increase.

“This is a pandemic going on, the school should have not, never done this at this time, and they did it,” she said.

She’s referring to the tax rate decided on by the school board.

But this is where it gets complicated.

The school board voted a 52.6 percent tax rate in 2019 and the same tax rate in 2020, so the tax rate did not increase.

But happening behind the scenes, the state reassessed a lot of properties, many by thousands of dollars, so while the tax rate stayed the same, the property value went up for many in the county, resulting in a higher tax owed.

The district told the Bath County News Outlook for a $50,000 property you’ll be paying $7 more and reports it is one of the lowest tax rates for all surrounding and similar districts in the state.

Jackson says even a small difference could break the bank for some.

“It could mean meals. There’s a lot of elderly people here in Bath County and there’s a lot of poor people in Bath County. And yeah, it could mean meals,” she said.

She’s not the only one that’s upset about the school board’s decision.

There was a chance for people to sign a petition against a small portion of the school tax. A committee filed with the county clerk but the petition didn’t get the necessary 470 signatures.

Jackson says that’s because coronavirus kept people from knowing about it.

“We need help, this is a pandemic.”

The board says a rate 52.6 percent is necessary to help balance funds it won’t be receiving this year.

“I support school system, I support the kids, I support all of it, but don’t take it from somebody who doesn’t have the money in the worst time of the year. Worst time they could have ever done it in a pandemic,” Jackson said.

Jackson is starting another petition and hopes if enough people speak up about it there could be some kind of relief, even if not through the tax rate.

Superintendent Harvey Tackett released this statement to ABC 36 News:

“Bath County Schools tax rate is not increasing. Due to the dramatic increase in county property assessments this year, Bath County Schools voted to keep the same tax rate as last year, at 52.6 cents on real and personal property.

Because of the fluctuation in property assessment values in Bath County, the compensating and 4% tax rates were lower than last year’s rate. This is not usually the case. Due to this, the portion of the levied tax rate that was above the 4% rate, was subject to recall (of the 52.6 cents, 1.4 cents was subject to recall).

We appreciate our community support, as we all need one another to benefit our students, parents, staff, and community stakeholders the best that we can. The tax revenue that the district receives is used for many student resources, including chrome books, meal delivery, and software programs, especially important this year due to COVID-19. If you ever have any questions regarding school finances, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Superintendent, Harvey Tackett”

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Monica Harkins joined the ABC 36 News team in June 2019 as a Multimedia journalist and Anchor/Producer. She’s born and raised in Austin, Texas and headed “North,” as she calls it, to study broadcast journalism and business at the University of Missouri. While at Mizzou she anchored and reported for KOMU 8 News, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri all four years. During her childhood she played almost every sport, but they always called her “Hollywood” for her love of theatre. In high school, she realized her excitement for theatre and performing was only a small piece of the puzzle. It’s story telling that’s her passion. She’s especially passionate about social media and creative platforms to tell stories. Her most recent experiment is being a FAA certified drone pilot. As a proud Texan she says she’s made of country music, Southern hospitality and Sweet Tea. When she’s not at work you can find her trying new recipes, listening to crime podcasts, reading the latest romance novel or rockin’ out to live music with friends. She says she’s only a tweet or Facebook message away, so say hi and send her the latest on your community. @MonicaHarkinstv or Mharkins@wtvq.com