Fiscal court deals with tax rates, IRS debt last week

Posted August 21, 2019 at 1:41 pm

Clinton County Fiscal Court had a busier than usual regular meeting last Thursday, August 15 with all members present. The session lasted an hour-and-a-half, which included a 35-minute closed session.

Tax rates, personnel, back payments to the IRS and a presentation from a Census Bureau representative were only a few items of business on the agenda.

After acknowledging the monthly treasurer’s report and approving claims and bills and a long list of fund transfers, the court heard a presentation from Ron Shumard with the U.S. Census Bureau Somerset office.

The census bureau representative opened the presentation by saying the U.S. Census was the largest peace time effort conducted every 10 years to count the number of residents living in the United States.

Shumard stressed the importance of an accurate count and what the numbers mean to each state, county and city in the country, for such things as representatives a state has in Congress, to how much federal funding states and local governments could be entitled to depending on their population count.

The census bureau representative noted that following the 1990 census, Kentucky lost one seat in Congress when the state’s population saw a decade to decade decrease in the number of state residents.

For individuals filling out census forms to be counted, he said it was “easy, safe and important” and only took a few minutes, depending on the number of people in a household.

He asked the county to partner with the census bureau office in Somerset to do an accurate count of residents and said they would be asking for a resolution next month to help spread the work about the upcoming 2020 year census, which can be taken in different forms, such as door-to-door contact, online, mail, etc.

Shumard also said it offered people part-time jobs who work with the bureau to take the census information.

The court then dealt with various taxing district rates, including setting the county tax rate as well.

Some representatives from the taxing districts were on hand at the meeting. Librarian Gayla Duvall told the court the library board had opted to take the four percent allowed compensating rate while most other rates remained unchanged.

The county voted to keep its same rate at 0.065 cents per hundred assessed value on real and tangible property; the health department rate was set at 3.5 per hundred on each; the county extension service was 8.564 on real and 2.00 on motor vehicle.

Tax rates are set by the taxing district and the fiscal court only votes in order for the taxes to be placed on the upcoming year’s tax rolls. Additional taxing district rates will be presented at a later time.

The court then unanimously approved a budget amendment to allow for repairs to a sheriff’s department vehicle beyond the insurance cost.

On separate motions, the court approved resolutions accepting $115,622 in FLEX road funds and $431,753 recently allotted by the state in discretionary road aid money.

They then approved a bus turnaround request from Tammy Denney on a road on Hwy. 2546, Owens Cemetery Road.

Solid Waste Coordinator Andy Davis then presented the judge and magistrates a letter, apparently from the Department of Energy, pertaining to a 2018 grant that was awarded to the county to purchase recycling trailers.

Davis noted that the 75/25 percent matching grant was never used and now the Department of Energy was wanting the money back, or the 75 percent matched by that agency in the amount of $19,560.00, with the court agreeing they had little choice but to re-pay the grant funds.

The court then heard some monthly department head reports and approved a resolution for continuity of government requirement which lists officials who would take over in the absence of the county judge/executive during an emergency.

The resolution states the longest serving magistrate would be first in line, on down to the latest elected magistrate.

The court then voted to hire Jerry Hancock as an employee on the road department, starting out at $8.50 per hour, up to $9 per hour after the 90-day trial period.

Also, due to extra duties the part-time county treasurer is doing now, Cindy Thrasher requested the court switch her from 20 hours she has been doing to 40 hours per week at $700 per week, which the court voted unanimously to do.

The court then entered into closed session on personnel matters and announced no action taken upon returning to open session.

When back in open session a motion was made and passed to pay the IRS two payments in back taxes, one from a previous year and one from January of this year, in the amounts of $24,166.73 and $20,300.76, respectively.

Those Internal Revenue Service payments were among those listed in the 2018 tax audit recently released by State Auditor Mike Harmon earlier this month.

The court once again discussed police vehicles they had ordered for the sheriff’s department, which was to be funded primarily with grant money.

The vehicles ordered, through Paul Miller Ford of Lexington, apparently were placed last fall, but have not been delivered.

Since that time, a sheriff’s office vehicle has been wrecked. Insurance paid for the cost of repairs and a different dealership offering two Dodge Chargers at a lower cost was found, that, according to Sheriff Jeff Vincent, could save the county at least $15,000.

Magistrate Mickey Riddle suggested having Assistant County Attorney Gary Little to draft a letter to the original dealership in Lexington requesting they opt out of the contract since the vehicles have not been delivered.

Magistrate Ray Marcum then suggested that each magistrate who serves on separate committees, such as the jail, road department, etc., sit down with department heads, the judge and other magistrates to work out ways in reducing spending, saying it would be too late if they waited until the end of the year to try and to fix the financial problems.

Finally, judge/executive Ricky Craig noted near the end of the meeting that a proposal had been made last month to look into a possible pay raise for county employees, but noted that with the financial conditions as they are now, that would have to be considered later.

The next regular meeting of Clinton Fiscal Court is scheduled for September 19 at 5 p.m. and is open to the general public.