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Monday, April 2, 2018

Johnson Elementary Gets $7 Million for New School

The Kentucky budget, known as House Bill 200 this year, was adopted in the free conference committee in the Kentucky legislature with the help of a major tax reform bill introduced in the eleventh hour that will raise an estimated $230 million dollars in new revenue.

RELATED: A full list of the budget bill with these provisions

House Bill 366 passed the Kentucky Senate 20-18, which lowers the individual income tax to a flat five percent and corporate income tax to a flat five percent.  Sales tax will be expanded to selected services such as landscaping, janitorial services, pet care, physical services, laundry, linen supply, golf and fitness clubs and tanning salons.

RELATED: Senate Debating Major Tax Reform Bill, Brought Forth Late in Session 

Additionally an increase of $.50 per pack on cigarettes will help fund the new budget items.

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The additional funding allows SEEK and pensions to be fully funded.

One item of note for Fort Thomas Independent Schools is the restoration of the money allocated for the construction of Johnson Elementary.

$7,612,400 was appropriated through the School Facilities Construction Commission. Menifee County Schools also received $7,650,300 for Menifee Elementary School.

Previously in the House budget, a line item appropriation for Johnson in the amount of $10,887,400 was approved, which was then taken out of the Senate's version of the budget in lieu of increased bonding capacity.

RELATED: Johnson Elementary Doesn't Receive Line Item Money for Construction

The Senate removed all revenue raising mechanisms in their version of the budget, but restored some money for school construction after the passage of HB 366.

"I am extremely excited for the Fort Thomas community that Johnson Elementary funding made the final version of the budget," said Sen. Wil Schroder. "I know how long they have been waiting and how hard they have been advocating for this to happen."

The bills now move to the House where they'll need approval before heading to the desk of Governor Matt Bevin, who can sign the bill or veto the measures. In the budget bill, per the Kentucky Constitution, the governor has line item veto power over budget items.

The craftsman, bungalow-style school will look marginally different from the other two renovated elementary schools in Fort Thomas.

"We wanted it to fit within the character of the neighborhood," said Dr. Karen Cheser, in a January town hall meeting held in the school's gymnasium.

"It's about a two-year project. Twelve months for first phase and another 12-14 months for second phase," said Joe Hayes, the architect working on the project. "The kitchen, cafeteria, entry hall, mechanical room and main infrastructure would be built first if funding were obtained."

The project will cost $22 million dollars. With shovel-ready plans ready to go thanks to a forward-thinking school board, Hayes said that demolition and construction could start if there were $11 million dollars in the coffers. The money allocated from this budget combined with the money available to the district should be enough to be able to start the project.

Fort Thomas Matters will update this story.

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