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County lowers tax rates

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SALYERSVILLE – The Magoffin County Fiscal Court agreed to lower the tax rates for the county, chipping away at the highest rates in the state.

In the meeting on Tuesday, August 20, the fiscal court approved the fund transfers of $35,000 from the general fund to the jail fund, $40,000 from the LGEA fund to the general fund and $44,000 from the road fund to the general fund. Wireman explained that the transfers are as a result of cash flow and are necessary to continue paying the bills until tax revenue starts coming in.

Deputy Judge Kevin Howard addressed the court, explaining that they are finishing up on the work on the community center and Big Sandy Community and Technical College has picked up their key. BSCTC will be renting out a portion of the community center for Skills U classes (adult education).

Howard said they have a lift in the gym of the community center and will start fixing the ceiling and replacing lamps. The test paint on the gym floor passed, so he said they will soon be starting to paint the floor. 

He said he has signed a contract with a 911 security grant and they will be starting the bid process for 911 equipment soon, as well. 

Howard explained that they will be pouring concrete for the Lummie Lemaster bridge this week. 

The court accepted the sheriff’s tax settlement as presented, showing that the total charges ($2,549,122.05) and credits ($2,549,123.16) for last year were nearly the same and that the sheriff’s office had a 94.04% tax collection rate.

After some discussion, the court agreed to purchase aluminum box culvert systems and materials from Contech Engineered Solutions, per a KYTC Master Agreement for FEMA projects, to replace the Laurel Branch Road Bridge ($32,636.82) and White Oak Road Bridge ($29,694.34). 

Judge Wireman explained that they can replace three bridges at the price of one using the box culverts and that he wants to work toward replacing all wood bridges with these solutions within the next four years. The culverts can handle the same weight limit as the road, the county workers and the company install the culverts and the company designs each one for the needs of that specific road and stream, taking four to six weeks to come in after they place the order.

The court unanimously approved the flood insurance premium if $2,946 through Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company (MetLife), which has to be approved annually and is for $1 million in coverage.

They also approved to advertise for structural t-rail, approved the contract for bore drilling, and passed a resolution for leasing trucks through KACO, as well as passed a resolution on continuity of government.

Three resolutions were read during the meeting honoring local veterans, including one declaring Coal Branch Road (CR-1017) from mile point 0.0 to mile point 0.843 to be forever known as Corporal Floyd Franklin “Skidmore” Patrick Memorial Road.

Patrick, who died in 1984, was a Korean War hero, and his actions are detailed in the resolution on page A4 of this week’s paper.

Also honored were Private First Class Forest Whitt and his brother, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class William Byron Whitt, who were both killed in WWII. Due to space constraints, their resolutions will be printed in next week’s paper, but the court agreed to name Sandbottom Road (CR-1163R) starting at mile marker 0.0 and ending at mile marker 0.589 to be forever known as PFC Forest Whitt and brother Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class William Byron Whitt Memorial Road.

Wireman said the road/bridge dedications honoring these veterans will be announced at a later date.

The court approved the uncontested petitions, closing Lawrence Stephens Road.

The biggest discussion at the Tuesday meeting was about the tax rates, with Judge Wireman recommending the court cut the tax rates.

Following the recent trends, the assessed property values have continued to decrease, which means the calculated rates from the state have increased, though Wireman they continue to whittle down the county’s rate, which as of 2018 was the highest in the state, proposing they cut real estate taxes from 48.5 cents per $100 to 47.5 cents and personal property taxes from 64.4 cents per $100 to 62.9 cents, with the court unanimously agreeing.

Wireman explained that they cut the rates last year, costing the county approximately $30,000 and he projects that the current cut could cost them additional $69,000 in potential revenue.

“We’ve got to start lowering these rates,” Wireman said. “We can’t get people to come here, businesses to locate here, if we’re taxing them to death. We are the highest taxed county in the state and we can’t do that. It’s about $68-69,000 in collectable funding lost, but that moneys goes in the people’s pockets. We can make do and we were down a quarter million dollars so far this year, and we’ll just have to get a little leaner.”

While the rates topped out in 2016 at 50 cents per $100 for real property taxes and 71.31 on personal property, the court has been slowly lowering the rates since 2017, in total dropping the amount they could collect on by around $250,000.

“That’s a couple $100,000 back in our community, though,” Wireman said.

Magoffin County Rescue Squad Captain Carter Conley came before the court, asking for the remaining funding needed to purchase an infrared imaging drone. The rescue squad has raised $6,300 of the needed $7,016 for a thermal imaging drone that will be able to find missing persons, even in thick foliage, etc. The court agreed to donate $800 from the LGEA fund so the rescue squad can purchase the drone.

“I think we can handle it, especially with the situation up the river with the little boy,” Wireman said, referring to the two-year-old that was missing for several days in the woods earlier this year.

The next regularly-scheduled Magoffin County Fiscal Court meeting is tentatively slated for September 17 at 6 p.m.
 

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Heather Oney

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