Courthouse

The saga of the Rusk County Wide School Board continued Wednesday in the continuation of a meeting that was put on hold from Aug. 5, the annual meeting to discuss, and possibly approve, the 2019 tax rates. 

John Carter, who was installed on the board last year, was again vocal about the board’s inability to track the revenues doled out to the different districts from tax revenues. 

The majority of the board was of the mindset that it was not the board’s responsibility to “act as police” over the dozen school districts and how the money was being spent. 

The original language of the 1937 legislation creating the taxing district only says the monies are to be spent on “equalizing school facilities and opportunities in this county.”

The layman’s definition is that Rusk County generated tax revenues are only to be spent benefiting Rusk County students. 

It is Carter’s contention that the tax money goes straight to a school’s general fund and no one knows who the money benefits.

By identical 4-1 votes, the board approved:

• Dispensing equalization monies to Rusk County Schools

• Approving a working budget

• Accept both an effective and rollback rate from the county’s tax office

• Approve the proposed effective tax rate at $.026544 per $100 of property valuation.

The 2019 rate is slightly higher than the 2018 number of $.026437, which is a difference of $.000107 cents. The difference in the calculation is to bring in approximately the same revenue as the past year. 

Carter was the lone dissenter in the voting. 

If nothing else, Jones has at the least forced the board to hold a public hearing on the tax rate, something that records, or prior agendas, do not reflect having happened in the past. 

The top five school district to benefit from these revenues are Henderson ($354,848.69), Kilgore ($141,468.94), Tatum ($135,733.67), West Rusk ($110,669.14) and Carlisle ($69.442.96).

Of those five districts, only two straddle a Rusk County line and only Kilgore is headquartered outside of Rusk County.

Back in 1937, most, if not all, of the school districts were wholly inside the confines of Rusk County.

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