MY WORD: School board puts on same show, same ending

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By Tony Harover

The Shelby County Community Theatre has nothing on the currently playing “Think Big” campaign put on by the administration of the Shelby County Public Schools. The production, written and directed by Superintendent James Neihof, is an annual tradition, based on the school board’s vote on its property tax assessment, presented this year at Collins High School on Aug. 23, 2012. I attended the show and have the following review:

  • Leading actor, Sam Hinkle, stole the show with a high degree of sarcasm and exaggeration.
  • Brenda Jackson portrayed her role as a damsel in distress as well as any I’ve ever witnessed.
  • Board chair and supporting actor, Eddie Mathis, came to Ms. Jackson’s rescue by originally voting no while pronouncing his preference to vote yes if he could coerce someone else to do likewise.
  • Doug Butler had a limited role (“Yes Man”), possibly due to his inability to memorize his lines.
  • Allen Phillips once again played the villain but was a hero to most of the general public in the audience.
  • The original, 3-2 vote against the proposed tax increase added drama and intrigue to this year’s event.
  • The biggest criticism is that the script has had the same ending for at least the past 12 years.

Based on property tax records obtained from the Kentucky Department of Revenue, SCPS has raised taxes every year since 1999. These rate hikes total greater than 37 percent and are more than double the increase of all other taxing authorities in Shelby County.

SCPS had the second-highest tax rate of the 120 county public school systems before the most recent increase. This rate is 42 percent above the statewide average for these systems. In addition, the SCPS tax rate exceeds all surrounding county public school systems.

As reported by The Sentinel-Newson Aug. 22, the median home value in Shelby County based on the 2010 Census is $169,500. The resulting school property tax for this typical home will be more than $1,200 by the end of this year. This is by far the largest tax for every property owner as exemplified by the following observation.

The school property tax is at least 50 percent of the property tax bill for the typical city homeowner and 60 percent for the typical county homeowner.

Because the current administration can’t bear to rewrite the show’s script, it’s time to begin changing the cast. It just so happens that two actors, Sam Hinkle (District 2) and Brenda Jackson (District 5), having been part of the 12 consecutive tax increases, are up for review later this year. Karen Sams (District 2) and Kurt Smith (District 5) are now auditioning for their parts. All taxpayers in these districts need to invest sufficient time and energy to these important positions before Nov. 6 to effect “BIG” change in our county.

If the script and/or the actors aren’t changed before next year’s tax levy show, I suggest incorporating soothing tax hike music to ease the pain and build on the choreography of the event.


Tony Harover lives on Vigo Road in Shelby County.