North Pike School District trustees have discovered a clerical error that kept taxes on 16th Section hunting holdings artificially low for years.
David Cook, a leaseholder on a 350-acre tract of 16th Section hunting land located on River Road, told trustees Thursday that paid $19.50 per acre two years ago when initially bidding on the land. The lease passed in November, bringing it back up for bid.
Cook submitted a sealed bid for $16 per acre and said he had a good reason for doing so.
“The taxes went up so much,” he said. “They went up tenfold. That’s the reason why I bid lower.”
“That’s a pretty significant drop,” Superintendent Dennis Penton said.
Penton said it wasn’t possible that the taxes increased by 10 times, arguing that the district had not requested an increase in its millage rate in recent years.
Penton recommended the board negotiate for no change in price or reject the offer and seek new bids. He said because there has not been any change in the state of the property the office of the Secretary of State would likely instruct the district to reject the bid.
But Cook insisted that such a tax increase had taken place. He said the taxes when he first took out the lease with the district were just under $140. This year, the tax bill shot up to over $1,300.
Trustee Scott Campbell said he went to the courthouse to inquire about the change in taxes. He said officials at the courthouse told him there had been a formular error in the calculation of taxes that hadn’t been adjusted for the last 10 years.
The court had apparently noticed the discrepancy two years ago and intended to remedy the calculation, but that fell through the cracks until this year, appearing to cause an increase in taxes on the lease.
“The $1,355 should be correct,” Campbell said. “The price on the taxes were wrong the last 10 years according to the courthouse.”
Cook agreed to bid $19.50/acre, rendering no change to the value of the lease.
“So basically, if we don’t match we can’t hunt,” Cook said. “We’ve got a lot of money put into it leading up to hunting season. I guess I’ve got no choice.”
Board president Freddie Deer thanked Cook for his understanding and for working with the board.
In other business, the board:
• Appointed Jamie Jackson as board president, Kevin Matthew as vice president, Scott Campbell as secretary and Etta Taplin as assistant secretary and agreed to rotate the positions each year.
• Approved the creation of a varsity volleyball team.
• Approved a list of district policies
• Hired substitute teachers Ashley Spring, Jada Brown and Melissa Tobias, food service employees Chiquita Carter, Sonya Crumedy, Bonnie Leffel, Lesley Peters, Kelsey Smith, Shannon Ryan and Anita Alexander, part-time bus monitor Dennis Peters and financial secretary Emily Wells.
• Accepted the resignations of food service worker Gloria Hamilton, district employee Joanna Westbrook, financial secretary Deidra Lofton and head football coach Chris Smith.