Letter to the Editor

February 13, 2014


Regarding the recent article outlining the response to my questions to the Bell County Board of Education about the recallable nickel, I have a few statements of my own to make.

I am a retired educator with nearly 31 years of experience in and around schools. I served as teacher, principal and as a consultant with the Kentucky Department of Education during those 30 plus years. I have been attending meetings of the Bell County Board of Education for nearly a year and recently I asked the board to tell the public how much recallable tax money has been collected and how much of it has been spent.

Back in April of 2013 I was told in a letter from the board’s attorney that the amount “expected” to be collected by June 30, 2013 was $321,883. Mr. Jeff Saylor (and hence, the board) partially responded to my questions via an email to the Daily News. In the response published in the Daily News on Jan. 29, you will notice there was no mention of how much money the board expects to collect this year. But Mr. Saylor did say, “All money collected at this point is setting (sic) in facility construction funds and not one penny has been spent to date.”

Taxpayers in this district have the right to know how much money is being collected by this tax. I appreciate this partial answer to my question, but I am renewing my request for the board to inform the public about how much money they expect to be collected from the recallable nickel tax this year.

In his emailed response to Mr. Cloud at the Daily News, Mr. Saylor went on to note the current school construction projects and the one regarding the road at Bell Central. Because of my 30 plus years’ experience in serving children and parents in Bell County, I am totally in favor of providing modern, comfortable and safe surroundings for children and staff in our local schools.

In the board’s response to my recent questions, Mr. Saylor went to some length explaining the need for the tax and the necessary repairs at the various schools. He also told us about how the tax was passed and the response of the public to its passage. Contrary to the board’s insinuation in Mr. Saylor’s response in the Daily News, I have absolutely no problem with the projects or the tax.

What I do have a problem with is the district administration being less than forthcoming with information about the taxes being collected. When the members of the public ask questions about how their tax money is spent, they are entitled to clear, concise and non-evasive answers to those questions, not answers that are incomplete, non-responsive and/or evasive.

The school board is a public entity and the caretaker of our tax dollars. The collection and expenditures from tax receipts must be transparent and questions regarding them should be answered completely, concisely and without hesitation. In this case that is not what is happening.

I will continue to ask questions until I get appropriate and concise answers to them. Originally, I attempted asking my questions “in house,” but since there was an appearance of stonewalling, I have decided to make the questioning a more public endeavor.

We taxpayers are entitled to answers to any questions regarding how our hard earned tax dollars are being spent.

Gary Smith