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County doesn’t entertain a taxing district despite $92K deficit

Magistrates Ronnie Miller and Daniel Bragg carried most of the clarification points regarding the six-year deficit the Barren River District Health Department presented last week. Pictured from left are Miller, Bragg, Fiscal Court Clerk Lorrie Gilpin, Treasurer Page Edwards, and Metcalfe Judge/Executive Larry Wilson. Photo by Allyson Dix

Barren River District Health Dept. can’t approve their budget without Metcalfe rectifying a 6-year deficit

Allyson Dix

Jobe Publishing, Inc.


Metcalfe magistrates unanimously approved $27,793 for last year’s health department deficit, a portion of what the Barren River District Health Department says the county owes.

Matt Hunt, District Director of the Barren River District Health Department (BRDHD), presented a “Local Appropriations” calculation sheet to the court in the Jan. 10 meeting indicating Metcalfe hasn’t paid what they were supposed to pay since fiscal year (FY) 2017-18.

Hunt explained the county has defaulted on payments and the other seven counties in the district have subsidized Metcalfe’s funding for the past six years.

“The other seven counties have been paying their contributions and paying the bills on behalf of Metcalfe County,” Hunt told the court.

The total amount due for the six years of non-payment is $92,891, which Hunt requested last year’s deficit be paid in full and said the health district is willing to work a repayment plan for the remaining $65,098.

According to Hunt’s calculation list, in FY 17-18, the county paid $90,000 instead of $97,360. FY 18-19, the county paid $90,000 instead of $99,586. FY 19-20, the county paid $90,000 instead of $101,264. FY 20-21, the county paid $90,000 instead of $103,751. In FY 21-22, the county paid $95,000 instead of $122,793.

Hunt additionally said the state is refusing to approve the BRDHD’s annual budget until Metcalfe has rectified the deficits.

Metcalfe County Judge/Executive Larry Wilson said it was his understanding the other counties are wanting Metcalfe to withdraw if the matter isn’t rectified.

“They’ve been pretty understanding, but at six years behind and they’re still paying their full amount and subsidizing the operations (for Metcalfe), they don’t want to continue doing that,” Hunt said.

Newly-elected Magistrate Daniel Bragg asked what the “logic” was for the purpose of not paying the full amounts in the past.

“I was told by the county treasurer at that time (Vickie Stephens) that the health department always asked for more, but we put $90,000 in the budget,” Magistrate Ronnie Miller explained, adding that he was unaware of a KRS law pertaining to the payments until he received an e-mail in Sept. 2022.

Wilson said, “We’ve always just paid according to what the budget says to pay.”

For clarity of the state regulation KRS 212.840(2):

The cost of creating and establishing the district health department shall be paid by the counties comprising the district in proportion to the taxable property of each county as shown by their respective county assessments. The annual expense of maintaining and operating the district health department shall be borne by each county reasonably and equitably in proportion to the amount of the taxable property in each county, in amounts determined by the standards of the cabinet.

Hunt explained in the meeting the contributions from each of the counties is 2.25 cents per $100 of assessed property value from the prior year a budget is set. A CH-31 form is used to calculate the numbers. He also said four of the eight counties have public health taxing districts.

As property values increase, naturally the payments to BRDHD increase, too.

Butler, Edmonson, Logan, and Warren are the four with taxing districts. Hunt said those taxing districts are set by the counties at 2.5 cents, to allow extra funding to provide care for the building itself, which is the county’s responsibility.

The 2.25 cents is “well under” half of the state average of 4.75 cents, Hunt said.

It was briefly questioned by the court regarding taxing districts, and Hunt said that process starts by approval at the board of directors of the county health department before being considered by the fiscal court.

Bragg was hesitant about adding additional tax for a public health taxing district, but acknowledged the deficits need to be paid.

“I don’t think I’d be willing to…I prefer to think about it before I’d be willing to tack on 2.5 cents on our property tax, but we definitely have to get this paid,” Bragg said.

Bragg and Wilson said the county could pay the lump sum, but Wilson said he didn’t want to run the county short because of other needs the county has.

He also said he doesn’t know how Metcalfe could handle running its own health department without the district and asked for a motion on the matter.

Magistrates approved to pay the $27,793 and the remaining balance to be paid annually over the span of three years.

Before the motion, Bragg told the court they will need to be mindful of the additional monies needed for the deficit over the next three years when setting their annual budgets.

When the taxes for the health department are not set up through a public health taxing district, they are taken from the general fund.

Magistrate Ronnie Miller explains that he was told by the previous treasurer (Vickie Stephens) that the health department always asked for more money than Metcalfe could budget and that he was unaware of any KRS changes until Sept. 2022. Photo by Allyson Dix




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