Darren Doyle, Edmonson Voice
Judge Executive Wil Cannon discussed two possibilities that would increase county revenue in the 2015-16 fiscal year. Cannon has regularly conveyed that the county is currently spending at a higher rate than the revenue coming in, at an amount somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000-$250,000 over the next two years.
Cannon has urged magistrates to explore any and all options available to solve the budget issue, unfortunately, there are only a few ways to fix an upside-down budget: increase revenue, decrease spending, (cut programs) or raise taxes. In some cases, a real solution might be a mixture of all the above.
Cannon pointed out that there are two taxes that virtually every county in Kentucky pays that Edmonson Countians do not; 1. An Extension Agent Tax and 2. A Health Department Tax. Cannon said Edmonson County pays around $90,000 to fund the Extension Agent each year and another $120,000 to help fund the Health Dept. services.
The proposed Extension Agent tax would appear on property tax bills, on motor vehicle and water sport vehicle taxes, and on personal property taxes (tangible taxes) in the amount of 1.75 cents per $100 of value. For example, let's say you pay property taxes on a $100,000 home and lot. The tax would add another $17.50 to your property taxes.
A proposed Health Dept. tax would also be applied to the same properties, but at a slightly higher rate of 2 cents per $100 of valued property, or an additional $20 on a $100,000 property.
"None of us (Fiscal Court) want to talk about these things, but here it is upon us and we have to do something," Cannon said. "We can't continue on like we're going. We're going to either have to severely cut the budget, increase revenue, or both. It's on our shoulders as to how this problem is faced."
Cannon has discussed at length that making large cuts in the budget would cause many county programs to suffer, such as Parks and Rec, the sheriff's office, and others. He's reminded the court on several occasions that Edmonson County has always paid fewer taxes than surrounding counties, but compounded over the years, now faces a huge budget shortfall.
Cannon asked the magistrates to take the proposed new taxes to each of their districts and get feedback from tax payers. The new taxes will continue to be discussed in the future.
New Branch of Lincoln Fire Department
Sheriff Shane Doyle also reported on several grants that had been applied for, one written by Lincoln Fire Chief Steve Sanders, would allow his dept. to build an additional branch in the community. The fire district is so large that many community residents are still 15-18 miles from a fire house. This causes insurance rates to be much higher. The construction of a satellite dept in the area would save a large portion of Edmonson Countians a substantial amount on their insurance policies.
He also said Emergency Management Director Pat Prunty has applied for two other grants, one that would allow the county to make improvements to the radio system used by emergency personnel, and the other that would allow a total new system. He noted that the current system being used is virtually obsolete and that there are parts of the county where signal will not reach.
The court also:
The court also discussed Parks and Rec issues and accepted the resignations of the Coroner and Deputy Coroner, both of which we reported earlier in other stories.