We are appealing the ruling on the JCPS Tax Hike and We Need Your Help!
The NoJCPSTaxHike.com petition committee would like to thank everyone who has helped us in our efforts to put the JCPS Tax Hike to a vote of the people. We have come a long way!
Below is a brief summary of where we stand and why we think we have a good chance of winning on appeal:
There were two main issues involved in the case, and Judge Brian Edwards ruled against us on both issues.
The first is that JCPS violated the law when it levied the tax. KRS 133.185 prohibits a taxing district from levying a property tax before the property assessment is completed and certified. Since JCPS levied the tax in May, before the property assessment was completed and certified in August, its tax levy was illegal, and it failed to give the proper, required legal notices to the people. In fact, the people still have not been given accurate notice of the amount of the tax hike.
Judge Edwards excused the violation of the law by JCPS, saying that there was a conflict of laws in this case, so JCPS could not comply. We strongly disagree. There was not a conflict of laws. It may have been inconvenient for JCPS to follow the law, but inconvenience does not create a conflict of laws. JCPS could have and should have followed the law. We citizens may find it inconvenient to pay our taxes, but the law requires us to pay them anyway. JCPS should be held to standards at least as high as those that are applied to the rest of us.
The second main issue is whether the petition was sufficient. We believe the county clerk’s office did its job properly when it checked the signatures and certified the petition. It missed some duplicates, but even after removing those, there still were enough signatures on the petition. JCPS used an “expert” to determine that more signatures should be removed from the petition for a variety of reasons, but he was not an expert, and he applied the wrong standard. We are optimistic that, on appeal, the court will agree that the county clerk’s certification should stand, the votes should be counted, and the will of the people should be respected.
We would like to set a few matters straight.
JCPS accused us of forging signatures on the petition. That was based on the fact that seven elderly people sent us signed, written requests asking to be added to the petition, and we added them. We provided all the documentation to JCPS during discovery. (We could not add the requests to the hand-signed petitions, because they were not in the correct format.) If adding those seven names was improper, it was an honest mistake, and it had minimal effect.
JCPS also accused us of changing the information people submitted. One example of “changes” that was used to remove signatures was where we printed the name or address on some of the handwritten petitions above where the person wrote as we were looking them up to write in the precinct numbers and the person’s handwriting was difficult to read. We did not cross out or delete what the petition signer wrote, and it was clear that our printing was simply our own notation, separate from what the person wrote.
Judge Edwards said he was troubled that we intentionally submitted duplicates to the county clerk’s office. The truth is that we threw away 7,000 signatures and eliminated as many duplicates and bad signatures as we could before submitting the petition to the county clerk, and the judge knew it.
We are hopeful that the truth and the law still matter, and that we will win on appeal.
The attorneys at Stoll Keenan Ogden who handled the case for us pro bono did a great job, and we are very thankful to them. It was difficult enough for us to cover the out of pocket expenses; we never could have afforded the $100,000 of attorney time they donated to us. We estimate that JCPS and JCTA have spent at least a million dollars on attorneys, fighting to prevent the people from having a vote and a voice. The attorneys at Stoll Keenan Ogden have said they cannot continue working pro bono for the appeal, and we cannot afford their rates, so we have found an attorney named Patrick Graney, who has an office in Shelbyville and who does a lot of appellate work, to handle the appeal for us. Now we are trying to raise $30,000 for the appeal.
The tax bills that people have received so far reflect only a portion of the JCPS tax hike. We understand that the remainder of the tax hike for 2020 will be billed in November of 2021. We are hoping that our appeal will be successful, and those additional bills never will be sent out.
If you would like to help us raise money for the appeal, please go to:
where you can make an on-line contribution. TheVilleKY.com, Inc. is a 501c4 corporation, which can accept contributions and can help fund our efforts without having to disclose the names of its donors.
If you would like to mail a check, please make it out to:
TheVilleKY.com, Inc. and mail it c/o Theresa Camoriano, 11508 E. Arbor Dr., Louisville KY 40223.
If more funds are received than are needed for the appeal, TheVilleKY.com will use them in its ongoing efforts to serve as an advocate for the taxpayers in Metro Louisville, advocating that service providers do their jobs properly and we get our money’s worth on taxes paid for education, police protection, and other services.