To the Editor,
The citizens of Magoffin County will have a very important decision to make in the very near future, that being how to continue funding the bills for the volunteer fire departments, rescue squad, senior citizens and other non-profit organizations or pay for the renovation and constant upkeep of an old building that once housed a church.
These non-profit organizations have been able to build buildings, purchase new and up-to-date equipment, pay utilities and other operating expenses using mostly coal severance money. Their own fundraising efforts have not been sufficient to pay these costs. Guess what, coal severance is gone! The only way for these very vital organizations to continue function two to three years from now will be a tax increase. A special tax may have to be established just for fire and rescue. I own property in another state and in addition to my real and personal property tax, I pay a separate tax for fire and EMS services. This tax amounts to close to one-fifth of what property tax is. This is common in other areas.
The Renaissance went before the Salyersville City Council asking for $5,000 to paint the old bank building. My own Salyersville Kiwanis Club has received several thousand dollars from the city council and fiscal court to repair the old caboose so it can be moved to the new park to be constructed at Half Mountain. When we have more pressing needs in this county, I resent spending my tax dollars on things that aren’t necessary or do not benefit the citizens like the volunteer fire departments, rescue squad and senior citizens programs.
I feel for the city council that made a bad decision to buy four pieces of property in town, take this property off the tax rolls, pay a high interest rate on their loan and have no real plan for what to do with the property or how to pay for it. The City paid $280,000 for this property six or seven years ago and still owes over $250,000. My advice to them is to lot it off, sell to the highest bidder and take their losses, if any, and put it back on the tax roll. A skate park and amphitheatre will bring in no revenue, only cost to tax payers in upkeep.
The fiscal court has also purchased property on Parkway Drive for $300,000. What do they intend to do with it? Will they come up with something that will make money? Another property off the tax roll.
The road project will take property off the tax rolls forever. The state does not pay taxes on its property. Guess who will make up for this loss of revenue?
We hear about tourism being the “future of Magoffin County.” Why will tourists come to Magoffin County? Sure, we have the Dawkins Line Rail Trail, but tourists need a place to stay. We do not have motel in Magoffin County and I do not know of any plans to have on in the near future. Once, again, these tourists have to go to Paintsville or Prestonsburg to stay in a nice motel. Guess what, they will also eat at their restaurants, shop at their stores. Magoffin County and Salyersville will get very little money from tourists unless we have good motels or campgrounds for them to stay in.
Our own business people do not have a good track record for reinvesting in other businesses in Magoffin County. There are only two places within five miles of Salyersville that you can buy gasoline from a business owned and operated by residents of Magoffin County. All the others are owned by out-of-county people or companies. Our supermarkets and variety stores are all owned by out-of-county or out-of-state companies. Few restaurants are locally owned.
We at the Magoffin County Public Library Board have a plan for building a new, modern, up-to-date building that will meet the needs of our citizens for many years to come and, guess what, we have saved over $1 million and have plans in place to pay for the new building without raising taxes. We believe also that we already own the best location for our new building.
We appreciate the kind words of support we receive from the silent majority of Magoffin County citizens for this project. To the reportedly 3,000-or-so signatures from men, women and children who signed to save our church, many who signed as they passed through the drive-thrus or two local restaurants, have no connections to Magoffin County. Who doesn’t want to save a church?
I believe that according to the Bible, a church is its people. The Salyersville First Baptist Church moved across the river to a new location. Therefore, the “church” doesn’t exist at the old building anymore. Sure, we all who are members have extremely fond memories, but that’s what they are and we cherish them.
By the way, if what I heard from the Director of the Kentucky Heritage Council is correct, for a facility to receive funding from them, which would probably amount to $50,000 to $200,000 for renovation purposes, the property would have to be owned by a non-profit organization, such as the Renaissance program, that can’t even pay for paint to paint the old bank building.
Folks, let’s move Magoffin County forward in a positive way. Work toward programs that create or save jobs from being lost. I am afraid that if the coal industry continues to decline, we will lose Joy Manufacturing Company (Continental Conveyor) in the near future. I have also heard a very important business was told if they would move to another county, the county would provide many incentives to them. This would mean employees would be driving 50-75 miles a day farther to work - vehicles and equipment taxed in another county. Once again, lost revenue for the city and county possible.
I am proud of Magoffin County and I am sorry for the negative publicity we have received from a group of people that believe that preserving the past at whatever cost is worth more than a bright future for our county.
Let’s all work together for a better Magoffin County.
Ronald D. Gullett
Chairman of Magoffin County Public Library Board