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Taxes under consideration by Adair Fiscal Court
By Adair County Judge Executive Gale Cowan
As I am sure many of you have heard in the news or read in the paper, the Adair County Fiscal Court is looking for ways to generate more revenue to help with the every growing rise in expenditures not only from COVID-19, but rising cost of things in general.
Most of the headlines are reading to include that 3-letter word that we all hate to hear..."TAX". Currently, it is just a discussion. We have asked for our citizens to call the Judge's office (270-384-4703) or call your magistrate to ask questions and voice your concerns. Believe me when I say, we are all concerned. We don't like discussing the topic either, but it is something we must look at.
The Fiscal Court is limited to ways to generate revenue. We have Property Taxes, 911 Service Fees, Rentals, Occupational Tax, and Insurance Premium Tax as revenue options. We can't do fund raisers or sell items for profit. This is a law set by the legislature.
We are mandated to pay the expenses of the Jail. In 2015 we averaged about 15 -20 county inmates. We don't get reimbursement on county inmates. We now average 50-60 and it has been as high as 75 county inmates. We are mandated to either have an animal shelter or to contract with another county to take our animals.
I have contacted not only our Senator and Representative, but also those of our surrounding counties, those that are chairs of legislative committees, and our state affiliate organizations such as KACo, KCJEA, and KMCA to ask them to support new legislation to help with all the hits the county budgets are taking.
We have 120 counties in the state of Kentucky. All but 16 (including Adair) have either an occupational tax or insurance premium tax as a revenue source. Of those 16 that do not, 7 of those have a franchise corporation tax or net profit tax. That is how other counties are making it. I looked at data from 2018 that shows the amount of tax revenue brought in by each county. I searched the 16 counties that do not have occupational or insurance premium taxes. There was 1 county with a lower tax revenue than Adair County. That was Lyon County which has a population of 8,082. Adair County population could easily hit 20,000 on this new census. So, I feel comfortable saying we are good stewards of your tax dollars. One article stated we wanted to pass a tax so we could give our employees a raise. I would like nothing more than to give our employees a raise, but that is not what will be done with this money. Something has to be done to be able to continue the day to day operations. We have cut every line in our budget we can possibly cut. Our next step will be cutting services or laying off employees. I want to bring back services. Not cut more.
Let me begin here by saying this next statement is not directed towards our current Mayor or City Council. The ordinances I am referring to have been implemented for several years. The City of Columbia not only has property taxes, but they also already have an Occupational Tax of 1% AND an Insurance Premium Tax at a rate of 10%. I also understand that residents of the City pay city and county property taxes. But the city budget does not take the hit that the county budget does. The City of Columbia budget does not pay anything towards the jail, the animal shelter, the 911 center, or the recycling center. They will pay for a project here and there at the 911 center if ask, but they do not financially support the operations of the 911 center from whom dispatches for the City of Columbia. I mailed a letter to the City almost 2 years ago asking them to help financially with these departments they utilize. I knew they didn't have to, the mandate falls on the counties. The only response I received was the City offering to take over the Jim Blair Center. That wouldn't have helped our General Fund
I've heard people ask, "What about all the alcohol money you were going to get?" The current county budget has expected a revenue of less than $19,000 on ABC funds. We did have a little more than that, but once again, the city annexed in property into the city limits that took away two paying businesses from the county and that revenue now goes to the city. The current City of Columbia budget anticipates revenue of $130,000 in ABC funds.
The Fiscal Court nor I want to implement another tax on the residents of Adair County. But I encourage each of you to look at the facts. Come get a copy of our budget and financial records. Go to the City and get a copy of their records. Compare them to other counties and cities. If you can think of another way we can generate revenue, I want to hear from you. We will have a fiscal court meeting on Tuesday at 4:30pm. The meeting will be in person and open to the public provided we do not have a spike in COVID-19 cases. The meeting will also be live streamed on the Fiscal Court Facebook page. I can promise you that if a motion is made and approved for first reading on the revenue discussion, we will have a town hall forum to hear concerns and recommendations from the public before second reading and passage.
This story was posted on 2021-01-25 06:31:51
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