ABAKER_Prime

Andy Baker

Kilgore ISD is bringing in their attorney from Texas Association of School Boards for further consultation on the district’s next steps in the years-long Axberg vs. Kilgore ISD lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which was first filed in 2016, alleges KISD improperly collected taxes after repealing their long-standing Local Option Homestead Exemption in 2015. The plaintiffs allege KISD’s repeal was a violation of a newly passed state law, at the time.

At Monday’s school board meeting, superintendent Dr. Andy Baker recounted the recent events in the case.

“Both the plaintiffs and us, or TASB on behalf of us, did ask the Texas Supreme Court to take a look at this and they did not so it came back to our local courts here in Gregg County. When it came back in, we hit the ground running about where we are: asking the state, asking Gregg county to give us some guidance to wh re we currently are and what options we have available to us at this point because they’ve never yet told us what we need to do next,” Baker said.

After their appeal to the Supreme Court was denied, KISD reached out to the plaintiffs in a letter asking to begin negotiations for a settlement.

The response to KISD’s Feb. 3 letter came Feb. 11 when the plaintiffs listed their desires for a settlement.

“They had three details they wanted to make sure Kilgore ISD would agree to do before they would ever agree to move forward with any kind of settlement,” Baker said.

“Those three things were, they wanted Kilgore ISD to agree to terms to make the existing lawsuit that’s been going on for five years, to make that into a class-action lawsuit. The second thing that they wanted Kilgore ISD to do was to set up a settlement fund to help pay the class-action lawsuit and the third thing was they asked Kilgore ISD to agree to pay an amount equal to one-third of the total amount of money that we’re going to pay back in this class-action lawsuit.”

Baker explained the additional payment amount would be repaid on top of the taxes collected after the LOHE’s repeal, which has been set aside in a separate account to pay back to the plaintiffs in the event the case is ruled in their favor.

KISD Chief Financial Officer Revard Pfeffer said this additional amount could up to $2.5 to $3 million.

“Needless to say, we did not agree to their settlement terms, since we don’t really know even ourselves what options are available to us at this point. That is where we have asked the TASB attorney to come back on this Thursday might to come talk about the options that are available to us and help us understand how we got to where we are and where we go from here,” Baker said.

Trustees will meeting with the attorney at KISD Administration Building Thursday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. in closed session.

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