Proposed alternatives to the nickel tax

Members of the community attended the Middlesboro Board of Education tax hearing and special-called meeting Friday hoping to persuade board members to reconsider levying the recallable nickel.

Arguments against the recallable nickel included options for alternative funding for the building projects the tax revenue is earmarked for.

Bell County Circuit Court Judge Robert Costanzo offered several different possibilities to fund the building projects.

Costanzo brought up the issue of the 3 percent tax Middlesboro residents have been paying since 1992. According to Costanzo and those in attendance — the tax went into effect to build the arts building. Costanzo said it was his understanding — that in 2012 the board voted to keep the tax even after the bond for the building had been paid — and he would like to see the tax used for the projected building rather than going into the general fund.

Costanzo also inquired about the state of East End School. Members of the board said the school is currently being leased. Upon further questioning, the board stated the lease amount does not cover the expenses incurred by the board for owning the building. During further discussion, it was determined the building may be sold in the future. Costanzo suggested the money from the sale be used toward pending building projects.

Costanzo also asked for explanation regarding the proposed district facilities plan and priority levels of the proposed work.

Currently there is no new construction of educational facilities scheduled for the district. According to a handout provided at the meeting — major renovations and additions of educational facilities are needed at Middlesboro Elementary School PK-2 (former K-4), Middlesboro High School, Central Auditorium and the Middlesboro Intermediate School 3-6 (former Middle School 5-8). These renovations include KERA Strands New Additions and renovations to upgrade including ADA accessibility.

There are also no plans for the construction of any non-educational additions at this time. Construction of management support areas list the construction of a central office on the existing property adjacent to Middlesboro High School and the construction of a bus garage/maintenance facility adjacent to Middlesboro High School.

Discretionary construction projects include upgrading the sports complex at Middlesboro High School, renovation of the playground area at the elementary school to include ADA accessibility and age appropriate design, construction of a dressing room and restrooms at Bradner Stadium and exterior lighting of the Middlesboro High School soccer field and tennis courts.

Reach Reina P. Cunningham at 606-302-9091.

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