By Allyson Dix
Last week, the Metcalfe County Fiscal Court discussed increasing the county’s occupational tax from 1% to 1.5% as well as approving job qualifications and requirements in light of the recent termination of Emergency Management Director Emory Kidd.
No action was taken by the court for a tax increase; however, Metcalfe County Judge/Executive Larry Wilson shared that the county has decreased its General Fund over a quarter-million dollars this year and noted concern that the county’s “bills have skyrocketed.”
“Already this year, I’ve seen our General Fund go from over a million down to about $700,000,” Judge Wilson said. “The only way I know to fix this–the city [of Edmonton] is already doing it–their occupational tax rate is 1.5% and ours is 1%.”
Judge Wilson said, “We need to raise that if we could, a half-percent, just to get us to where we can function normally.”
Daniel Bragg, magistrate for Metcalfe County’s third district, pointed out that if the county’s bills are increasing then the taxable dollars the county receives in revenue should also increase.
“We’re a little bit into an unprecedented situation in Metcalfe County where we have inflation and we have increased unemployment, which should normally never happen together,” Bragg said. “But where we’ve lost some jobs here, we are at a little localized stagflation situation.”
District 2 Magistrate Kevin Crain said citizens working inside the city limits are paying double and raising the county’s occupational tax will affect everyone.
Page Edwards, Metcalfe County Treasurer, said in the past, the occupational tax hasn’t been policed as it should have been, but that they’re currently working on issuing non-payment letters.
She also said, as an example, the county’s jail expenses are requiring her to do inter-fund transfers every other month to pay the bill, which she said has been over $30,000 each month. The court would later approve a $60,000 transfer for the jail expenses that Edwards said would “get us through the next couple of months.”
She emphasized that “something has to be done.”
Bragg suggests going “back to the drawing board” to find other ways to generate revenue or eliminate costs of the jail. The treasurer said she was only using the jail fund as an example, because the costs keep increasing.
Judge Wilson said, as for the occupational tax rate increase, “I hate to do it because most people in Metcalfe County are struggling right now.”
To which Bragg responded, “And that drives them to Barren County and Warren County” to work as well as spending money in those counties’ businesses while there.
“When you’re working in Glasgow, you’re going to restaurants and gas stations, when we drive business out of the county,” Bragg added, “I think if we’re going to raise a tax somewhere, I don’t believe this is the tax we need to raise.”
As mentioned, the court wasn’t set to take any action on the occupational tax increase, but Bragg additionally pointed out that an increase would add a “burden to those looking to employee Metcalfe Countians.”
Bragg further said, “I know this maybe the easiest way, the quickest way, but I’m hesitant. I think the harm may outweigh the short-term risk here of raising this rate. [It’s] something to think about.”
Judge Wilson said he didn’t expect any action to be taken, but he said, “We are going to have to start giving it some consideration.”
The court also discussed clarification on account signers for the recently-established Metcalfe County Economic Development Board–an entity not related to the local industrial development board–before voting to table the item.
Longtime Emergency Management Director Emory Kidd was recently terminated and the Edmonton Herald-News is working to seek details on the matter at this time.
However, in the October 10 court meeting, discussions were had on the qualifications for the hiring of an emergency management director.
Bragg motioned to approve qualifications as sent from Regional EM’s Gary Fancher’s e-mail laid out for magistrates.
The court then moved to enter into a closed session for two separate items: discussion of litigation/possible litigation and personnel. No action was taken following the closed meeting.