Bell County School Board proposes tax increase

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

Bell County school leaders say the facilities need thousands of dollars in improvements and upgrades but the money is not there.

The Bell County Superintendent is proposing a nickel property tax increase to raise the money.

The money would go towards Yellow Creek School Center to alleviate overcrowding. Five mobile units are being used as classrooms at Yellow Creek. The superintendent wants to build eight new brick units, but currently, there is not enough money.

"Whatever our kids need, our community has always been for our kids having that, and I have all the confidence in the world we can move forward on this," said Superintendent Yvonne Gilliam.

She is proposing a property tax increase called the "recallable nickel." That means if passed, it could only be temporary.

Officials say the extra nickel per 100,000 would raise an estimated $285,000. The school system could then be eligible for another $12 million in bonding.

Some of that money would be used to get to Title IX Compliance by building a girl's softball field.

"We need to be putting more revenue into our girls athletic programs than what we are doing now," Gilliam said.

The football and baseball fields would also get upgrades. The Bell County High School's HVAC unit would also get upgrades.

"Which would help save the district money in future years in electrical bills and maintenance," said Bell County Schools Finance Director Steven Silcox.

School officials say if they do not make the improvements now, it could be another ten years before the bonding capacity is available again.

"They've never been lower than I know of right now, the interest rates, so you'll get more bang for your buck with the bonding," Silcox said.

The school board plans to get public input before making a decision on the tax increase.

A public hearing is scheduled for September 6th at 7:00 p.m. in the Administration Building in Pineville.

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