Darren Doyle, story and photo
Judge Executive Wil Cannon discussed two new proposed taxes at today's Fiscal Court meeting that he says will repair a huge hole in the budget for the next several years. During the last few meetings, Cannon has explained that the county has been operating on a budget that has relied heavily on the county's savings, an account that will soon be bled dry.
The county currently funds both the County Extension Agent's office and The County Health Department. These offices are basically provided to Edmonson County solely on the support of the county government. Cannon has said that Edmonson County is one of the few left in the state that doesn't have a tax for each of the offices. Both offices combined cost the county around $200,000 to $210,000 per year, which is near the amount that the county needs to balance the budget for next year.
The proposed taxes would be added to property tax bills as well as motor registration taxes to the tune of about .2 percent for a Health Department Tax, which is still half of the .4% most counties pay, and a slightly lower .175% for the Extension Agent tax.
Cannon said that a recent study showed that Edmonson County is among the bottom 4 counties in the state for the lowest tax burden. Cannon said that county governments are some of the last to recuperate from recessions. "I'm going to guess it was around 2008 when the (county's) financial issues started. Our property assessments basically stayed the same through the recession, and this year was really the first time they've shown a rise since then."
With the county's income staying the same but expenses continually rising, the county has been forced to dig into it's savings. Cannon stressed that the county hasn't added new or more services, it simply has to find a way to fund current programs and expenses. "Without increasing revenue we'll be forced to make cuts, and we can't cut the services our county currently provides."
Several residents in attendance spoke in favor of the new taxes if they were indeed going to fix the budget. The proposal will be on the next Fiscal Court agenda for a final vote.