Graves County Public Schools superintendent Kim Dublin said the City of Mayfield’s annexation of some of the school district’s property is ‘taxation without representation.’ Dublin held a press conference on Friday to clear up what the board said is a ‘miscommunication’ regarding pending legal issues with the city.
The annexed properties include the Graves County Middle School, Central Elementary, the Board of Education office and transportation and maintenance garages. Graves County High School is already in city limits. Some elementary schools in the county are not included.
Dublin said the City of Mayfield had filed suit to collect the taxes from Graves County Schools employees. The Board of Education has submitted payment of the taxes for the third and fourth quarters of 2017, which Dublin said amounts to an additional $30,000 on the additional .9%. (According to school officials, the city told leadership to pay 1.9% rather than 2%). Dublin said the first quarter of 2018 has already been resolved. The board withdraws taxes monthly from the payroll and is escrowed and paid quarterly. The board began withholding taxes from employees checks in January. About 300 employees are affected.
As for pending litigation, Dublin said, “There has never been a dispute between the Graves County Board of Education and the City of Mayfield regarding the payment of taxes or the amounts paid since Graves County High School was opened in 1985.” The high school was built in the city and those employees have always paid city taxes. Dublin said the same formula to compute those taxes is being utilized for the annexed buildings. She said is it unknown when pending litigation will end.
The board has challenged the decision by the city council to annex property, an issue dating back to 2015. Mayfield Mayor Teresa Rochetti-Cantrell has said she wanted to expand the city’s boundaries and make the area more attractive for Interstate 69 expansion. Teachers at the schools annexed are seeing a payroll tax increase. The Kentucky Court of Appeals had overturned the trial court ruling that the annexation issue be placed on the ballot, according to the school board. Also, the state Supreme Court had denied the motion for review of the matter.
"Graves County Board of Education and myself we have tried to stand up for our employees. We do believe this is a taxation without representation and that's the message that I want people to understand,” Dublin said. “The impact of the annexation and the subsequent taxation of employees of the district will make it difficult to retain and to recruit quality teachers who provide the educational services for the children of Graves County.”
The mayor's office did not respond to a request for comment.