The Frankfort Independent Schools Board of Education passed a 4% tax rate increase for 2020-21 at a special meeting Monday.

“No one likes a tax increase, but we are funding our future,” board member David Garnett said.

The increase was recommended by FIS Superintendent Houston Barber. The rate will be 102.4 cents per $100 of assessed value on real and personal property.

That’s an increase of 3.4 cents from last year’s tax rate of 99 cents per $100 of assessed value.

“I do empathize with our families and understand the challenges they face,” Barber said. “I also understand that there are challenges we face with our tax situation where over 75% of our properties are tax exempt. We’ll continually work with our local officials, state officials on trying to improve this situation.”

The properties that are tax-exempt in the FIS district are state-owned.

“Unfortunately, we continue to place a burden we wish we didn’t have to on our district taxpayers,” Board Chair Jina Greathouse said, “but until we see some type of relief on our tax exempt property status within the district, there’s not a lot more we can do but just press ahead.”

The tax rate was approved unanimously.

“Without it we risk falling flat and stumbling forward,” Barber said. “I understand it’s a very difficult and challenging time for many and that is something we don’t take for granted, but I also think that for this district to continue to move forward with the opportunities for our children, for our families, we’ve got to stay on this path.

“Obviously there are things we’re going to continue to challenge as a district, and I encourage us to get deeper involvement, even from the community, about tax-exempt property, which really creates a burden for our families and for us, but I do think this is the best path forward for our families and for our students.”

The board approved a 2020-21 working budget at the meeting. Each district must submit a working budget to the Kentucky Department of Education by Wednesday.

The working budget is $13,197,878.01. 

The budget projects decreases in revenue in the special revenue fund ($1,533,275 to $1,355,569), the capital outlay fund ($85,817 to $72,962), the food service fund ($1,122,460 to $1,022,120) and the building fund ($763,751 to $700,800), and increases in revenue in the debt service fund ($682,379 to $782,605), the day care fund ($120,470 to $137,672) and the general fund ($9,843,039 to $9,908,754).

“The big thing here is we want to present a fiscally responsible budget,” Barber said. “We're discovering more things about how to navigate the future, even though we can’t predict everything.

“We also know potential revenues and shortfalls could really impact our budget, so we have to prepare for that. But we feel this is a really conservative budget in many ways. We've adjusted some things. We’re still aggressive in supporting our students and our families.”

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