Fiscal court divided on tax rate

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The Magoffin County Fiscal Court met in a special-called meeting Monday evening, accepting the rest of the sheriff’s tax settlement and setting the tax rates.

In the last meeting, former Sheriff Bob Jordan’s settlement was accepted. Mike Prater presented Sheriff Carson Montgomery’s settlement, covering January through May’s collections, which was accepted in Monday’s meeting.

Nearly the entire amount to be collected was turned in and Prater assured the court the rest will be turned in to the county, citing minor issues that can be fixed to make up for the discrepancies.

Magoffin County Judge Executive Dr. Charles Hardin commended Prater, saying it was a “good pickup.”

The court came up with two options when it came to setting the tax rates, with the vote locked at two-to-two.

The compensating rate is a higher percentage this year because the Magoffin County property assessments decreased in value from last year, Dr. Hardin said. The rate increases to bring in the same amount of revenue.

Magistrates Pernell “Buck” Lemaster and Ronnie Lovely voted for taking the same rate as the previous year (29 percent), with modifications to “discretionary spending” across the board. This will allow the tax rates to not increase, but it would mean at least a 7 percent decrease in pay for county workers and smaller contributions to the senior citizen center, fire departments, Disabled American Veterans and the Rescue Squad.

“I don’t want to raise taxes and I want to try to help Magoffin County and its people by keeping the cost down,” Lemaster said.

With little business and tough economic times, Lemaster said, “We need a low cost of living to bring in business, more people and get people to stay here. We need to keep the rate down to help the people invested in Magoffin County.”

The vote failed with Magistrate Gary “Rooster” Risner and Dr. Hardin voting against it, and the compensating rate of 31 percent was automatically accepted.

“My position is that the compensating rate brings in the same amount of revenue as last year, therefore is not a tax increase,” Dr. Hardin said. “The rate varied due to changing total county assessments. I appreciate Magistrate Risner’s support of this position.”

Dr. Hardin said that if he and Risner had agreed with the initial vote, the county would have to reduce county resources.

“We maintained the same revenue to maintain the same level of services,” Hardin said.

In other business in the Halloween meeting, the court voted to become a member of the East Kentucky Trail Coalition, which could potentially open Magoffin up to creating and maintaining at least one ATV trail and bring in more tourism and revenue for the county.

For clips of the meeting, go online to www.salyersvilleindependent.com.