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Petition drive lawsuit holds up Carlisle County tax bills

Carlisle County property owners haven’t received their 2010 tax bills yet. At this writing, it is unclear when they will receive them.

The Carlisle County School System wants to increase property taxes to pay for renovations to the elementary school.  The school’s condition is listed as a Category 4. A Category 1 school is the best and Category 5 the worst. According to Superintendent Paul Shoulders, a new school is needed, but the funds are not available.  The system wants to make repairs and add a cafeteria. 

One parent said that at one point, a portion of the school roof came down during the school day after a heavy rain.  Fortunately, no one was hurt by the collapse. The parent also said there are gaps in the wall where “you can pull grass from the yard outside.”

Under House Bill 44, raising property taxes above 4% is only allowable if 10% of local voters don’t petition to put the tax on the ballot.  A petition drive yielded around 400 signatures, but the County Clerk ruled a number of the signatures to be unacceptable-enough to overrule the petition. 

In her report, Carlisle County Clerk Theresa Owens wrote:

“Pursuant to KRS 132.017 I have determined and find that the Recall Petition concerning the Carlisle County Board of Education ad valorem tax increase subject to recall is insufficient.  

 The specific deficiencies found are that only 234 of the required 269 signatures contain the full information required by statute. 

Most of the deficiencies involve an incomplete street address that does not include the city or community of the address.

The group opposing the increase went to Carlisle Circuit Court to have that decision overturned. The law provides that tax bills should not be sent out in such cases.  Property owners will just have to wait for a decision by the Carlisle Circuit Court. 

At a hearing on Wednesday, November 17th, the Plaintiffs asked for more time to prepare their case. Ricky Lamkin, of Murray, representing the Plaintiffs, told Judge Tim Langford that he had just received a pleading from Carlisle County School Board Attorney Bryan Wilson. Lamkin told the Judge that there was a case with Wilson’s pleading that would need to be researched before he could proceed.

County Attorney Mike Hogancamp reminded the Judge that tax bills had not been sent out and time was of the essence to get them out. The parties all agree that only one witness – Theresa Owens, the Carlisle County Clerk, need testify.

Judge Langford reset the hearing for Friday afternoon, November 19th.

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