MURRAY – The Calloway County Board of Education voted last week to keep tax rates the same this year, along with passing a 2020-21 working budget. 

The school district’s tax rates will again be 46.3 cents per $100 of assessed value for both real property and motor vehicles and watercraft. If someone had a home worth $200,000, for example, the annual tax owed on that home would be $926.

Governmental bodies in Kentucky are allowed to pass a 4% compensating rate without a public referendum if they choose, meaning they can raise taxes just enough to earn 4% above the revenue from the year before. Calloway County Superintendent Settle said the board opted not to do that this year.

“We left it the same this year. We did not pursue the 4% increase,” Settle said. “We just felt like with COVID going on and some of our local businesses being hit pretty hard, it was probably prudent not to move to raise taxes this year.”

The board approved a working budget of $33,337,091.05 for the general fund, with all funds totaling $42,515,805.57. Settle said the budget includes a 1% raise for all staff and a $2,000 raise for teachers who have served for 25 years or more. It also includes a $2 per hour raise for bus drivers, which he said was approved last spring for the 2020-21 fiscal year. 

“A budget is a spending plan; it’s a best-guess estimate,” Settle said. “We’re being conservative on our budgeting this year because we don’t know what tax collections are going to look like. I know a lot of people have been impacted and are out of work and things like that, so our budget is fairly conservative and we’ve allocated some funds in areas such as construction. 

“We are in the process of redoing some of our wastewater plants at our schools, so we’ve allocated that in the budget. We currently have wastewater treatment plants (at each of the three elementary schools), and we are replacing those with septic systems at Southwest and East, and we are looking at the possibility of either a septic system or tying into the city sewer at North Elementary. We are still working with the health department and the city to determine whether or not we are going to be able to do that at North.

“We’ve also allowed for the addition of a gravel road behind the middle school to help in the transport of buses. Due to COVID-19, we’ve got to bring all of our buses on our high school-middle school campus now. That’s not something we’ve done in the past, but every morning and afternoon, we have our entire fleet here and we had to have a staging area for that, so we have constructed a gravel road behind the middle school to be able to allow those buses to stage and aid with pick-up and drop-off of students.” 

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