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FC argues over tax rates, bills

SALYERSVILLE – The Magoffin County Fiscal Court met in regular session on Thursday, August 23, the first for a newly-appointed magistrate, and set the tone early with a disagreement about the bills.

At the beginning of the meeting when asked to consider paying the bills, Magistrate Matthew Wireman motioned to not pay one specific check on the bills, listed for $85,000 to the Magoffin County Sheriff. Magistrates Wireman and Pernell “Buck” Lemaster voted for the motion to not pay the $85,000.

For the past two months, Magoffin County Judge Executive Dr. Charles Hardin has motioned to pay the sheriff $85,000, explaining that Sheriff Carson Montgomery had not asked for his salary for two years and that they should pay at least one of those years, then start making monthly payments to stay up to date. In June the motion failed 2-to-1 and in July the motion failed to receive a second.

Wireman specifically cited KRS 68.300 for the reason why he opposed the payment, which states: “Any appropriation made or claim allowed by the fiscal court in excess of any budget fund, and any warrant or contract not within the budget appropriation, shall be void. No member of the fiscal court shall vote for any such illegal appropriation or claim. The county treasurer shall be liable on his official bond for the amount of any county warrant willfully or negligently signed or countersigned by him in excess of the budget fund out of which the warrant is payable.”

With the motion failing, Hardin noted that the bills would be paid. 

The fiscal court approved the fund transfers of $30,000 from the general fund to LGEA fund.

Hardin proposed the Magoffin County Recycling Agreement, motioning that the county judge be given the authority to sign documents pertaining to it, and that the county will participate with Pike County for a recycling grant that would provide the funds for a shredder (for a cost of $27,133 with installation costs of $1,200). The motion passed unanimously.

In regards to the USDA and Big Sandy Area Development District’s contract on the drone project, for the rescue squad, at a total of $4,750, the fiscal court unanimously approved to give the county judge the authority to sign any documents for the project. The court previously has agreed to pay $1,000 in matching funds.

The court agreed to advertise for bids on a project at the Civil War Battlefield Park restroom and blacktop, a project set at $126,000, funded by Homeland Security and RTP. 

Hardin motioned that they apply for a flex agreement through the state to use rural secondary funding for resurfacing of county roads, and county judge has the commission to sign the needed documents, and to go ahead and bid the project. Within his motion, he said he was recommending Helton Branch, Hensley Branch, Fox Run, and to finish up Buffalo. The motion passed unanimously.

The fiscal court set the tax rate after a disagreement about what the rate should be.

Going into the meeting, the rate was set at 49 cents per $100 and if they had not set a rate they would have automatically been forced to take the compensating rate, at 50 cents per $100 and the maximum allowed by law. 

In his first meeting since the governor appointed him last month, District 1 Magistrate Darrell Ray Howard noted that he thought the rates need to be lowered if they could. 

Wireman said he would like to lower the rates, too, but just slightly, to bring in the same amount of revenue as 2014, when he was first elected to the court, which had the possibility of bringing in $1.4 million. He explained that over the next couple of years and the issues with the tax rates, that number went up to $1.6 million. Those numbers are based on property valuations and are only potential revenue, not calculating actual collection rates.

Wireman proposed they lower the rates to 48.5 cents per $100, and said either he or Carter Whitaker will have to address the actual issues that are pushing up the tax rates.

Hardin then motioned to lower the rates to 28 cents, stating that’s the rates the county had when he took over and he reportedly was criticized by Wireman for raising the rates.

“We’ve got to do what’s best for the county and bankrupting the county is not it,” Wireman told Hardin.

When Lemaster asked Hardin why the rates were raised then, Hardin said, “I knew I’d spend the money right and don’t want to leave other people with a bunch to work with.”

Then Howard said he would like to see the rates set at 40 cents, and Hardin seconded it. 

Lemaster asked County Treasurer Kila Keeton for her opinion and she said 40 cents was too low to operate the county, with an approximate $20 million difference.  

The motion didn’t pass, with Hardin as the only vote in favor of the tax rate at 40 cents per $100.

Wireman motioned to lower the current rates slightly to 48.5 cents, and Lemaster seconded it. Howard asked Keeton if that was their best option and she said it was. In a roll call vote, they passed the motion, with all in favor except Hardin.

During the magistrates’ discussion, Howard said they need to look into bringing county water services to all Magoffin County homes, doing some work to the roads, and proposed a 50 cent raise for all non-elected county employees. 

Hardin seconded his motion for the raise, and after some discussion and a failed attempt by Wireman to table it until they had more information, the motion passed with Hardin, Howard and Lemaster voting in favor of the raise. 

The fiscal court passed a $1 raise for the same employees last month, which was estimated at costing the county $100,000. 

Also during discussion, Lemaster asked Hardin if they had overlooked Salyersville Fire Department when disbursing funds to fire and rescue organizations. Hardin said he would have to check with the Kentucky Association of Counties to see if they legally can.

Lemaster also brought up, again, that they need more road signs put up throughout the county as a matter of safety during emergencies. 

The next Magoffin County Fiscal Court meeting is tentatively set for September 27 at 5 p.m.




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