Watts proposes to keep county tax rate at 14.3

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By Randy Patrick

County Judge-Executive Dean Watts recommended to the Nelson County Fiscal Court Tuesday that they not change the county’s property tax rates.

If the magistrates were to keep the rate for real estate at 14.3 cents per $100 of assessed valuation — or $14.30 for every $10,000 — it would bring in an estimated $4,019,818, and personal property taxed at the same rate would bring in an extra $1,140,502. It’s estimated $79,606 of the additional income would be from new property added to the tax rolls.

“Most people just want to be left alone,” Watts said. Yet county government’s expenses continue to rise, he said, citing specifically health insurance costs. “It will give us a little more revenue but keep us on an even playing field.”

Because keeping the rate the same will actually generate more revenue, the Fiscal Court is required by state law to have a public hearing to give people an opportunity to speak out about taxes. That hearing has been set for Thursday, Aug. 23, at 9 a.m. At that time the court will also have its first reading of the tax rates ordinance, and at its next meeting after that, they will vote on it.

The county could have avoided a hearing by lowering its tax to the “compensating rate” that would have raised the same amount of revenue as the year before.

The other option allowed by state law, which would also have required a public hearing, would have been to increase the rate to the maximum allowed, which would generate 4 percent more revenue than the year before.

Keeping the other tax rates the same would mean the rate for motor vehicles and boats would be 16.1 cents per $100; the taxes on public service companies and distilled spirits storage would be 14.3 cents, the same as for real estate and personal property; the tax on bank deposits would be 0.025 of a cent; and the rate for aircraft would be 1.5 cents.

Watts said that for several years the county has kept its tax rate the same, but it has from time to time been lowered. During his first year in office, in 1994, it was a cent more than it is now.

Open meetings, records education

As required by the state anytime the legislature changes its open meetings or open records laws, the county judge-executive has to distribute an updated version of the guidebook “Your Duty Under the Law” to all county officials, including the magistrates, members of the Planning Commission and other boards. Watts notified those attending the meeting that has been done.

Doors approved for amphitheater

During the meeting Tuesday, the magistrates approved spending $56,900 on overhead doors for the Stephen Foster Drama Association’s J. Dan Talbott Amphitheatre. Watts said there has been enough money raised privately to pay that expense.

The county is leasing the facility from the state and making repairs to the amphitheater, which are being paid for with private contributions.

Watts offered to meet after the meeting with all the candidates for magistrate and county judge-executive who attended the meeting to explain the arrangement and update them on the project so that they “avoid misinformation.”

District 5 blacktop projects authorized

The magistrates approved their final list of asphalt paving projects, for District 5, which is represented by Jerry Hahn.

The county will pave parts of Stoner Road, Grays Run, Richard Drive and Mary Jo Boulevard, part of which is in the city limits of Bardstown. The total amount is $167,091.22.

They also approved a bid from the RAME company of $138,150 to replace a culvert on Woodlawn Road and repair a road slide related to it. The county got a grant of $101,448 to use toward the project, and the rest will come out of county reserves.

County to advertise for recreation leader

Watts announced Tuesday that the county is looking for a new parks and recreation director. Tyler Wimpsett has resigned to take a job teaching at the Nelson County Alternative School.

“Tyler has done an excellent job and we hate to lose him, but we understand he had an opportunity” to do what he wants, and he and others in county government wish him the best, Watts said.

The county will advertise for a new director. In the meantime, County Engineer Brad Spalding and County Road Department Supervisor Lee Mattingly will be in charge of recreation.

In other matters:

• John Greenwell, an engineer for the county, gave an update on the Old Courthouse renovation project. He said scaffolding on the front of the building has been raised all the way to the top of the bell tower for the workers to finish tuck-pointing the masonry and replacing the windows.

• The court approved the expenditure of $10,192 to Gregory Container for four six-cubic-yard dumpsters and four eight-cubic yard dumpsters.

• The magistrates approved spending just over $7,000 for Salt River Electric to set utility poles along a county right of way for Bardstown Cable and Internet to run lines for internet service. After the lines are placed, the liability will be the city’s.

• Nelson County EMS reported that it had 568 runs so far this year.

• The Nelson County Jail had 167 inmates as of Tuesday, and 54 were state prisoners.