Mercer County Fiscal Court OKs Property Tax Increase

Public Hearing Will Be Held On Aug. 28

Robert Moore

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The Mercer County Fiscal Court has approved a four-percent tax increase. The magistrates were presented with two options: to either take the compensating rate of 0.122 per $100 in assessed value, which is the same rate as last year, or to make a four-percent increase, which raises the rate to 0.126 per $100. The tax increase will raise more than $53,000 in additional revenue. The motion passed unanimously.

The court also set the personal property tax rate at 0.1810 per $100 in assessed value and the tax rate on motor vehicles and watercraft at 0.920 per $100 in assessed value. The latter rate has not changed in over 35 years, said Judge-Executive Milward Dedman.

A public hearing on the tax rates will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at the fiscal court building. The hearing will be held before the next regular meeting of the fiscal court.

However, one citizen has already voiced his opinion. Terry Dunne, who regularly attends fiscal court meetings, noted that the county has taken the four-percent increase for the last 12 years. During the same period, the county’s carryover funds has also increased. Dunne asked the court what they intended to do with the additional funds.

“What is the intention of the fiscal court?” Dunne asked. “What is in your minds? What are they being earmarked for?”

Judge Dedman said the court was looking at making repairs to Anderson-Dean Community Park and the sheriff’s office needed new vehicles. Dedman pushed back against Dunne’s contention that the county was sitting on money. The judge noted that most of the carryover funds are restricted, meaning they can only be spent in certain ways, such as the jail fund.

He said the county was having to dig into the payroll and net profit fund to make up for declines in the general fund, which is drawn from property taxes and accounts for a majority of the county’s income.

Treasurer Sandy Sanders agreed. “Even with our carryover, we’re having to transfer money into our general fund to get our budget to balance,” Sanders said.

She also took the opportunity to warn the fiscal court that she is closely monitoring what magistrates are spending. This is an election year, and under state law, elected officials cannot spend more than 65-percent of their appropriated funds before the end of December. Thirteen percent of the general fund has already been spent, Sanders said. Even though the county has received $250,000 in discretionary road funds—the first such payment in three years—the magistrates couldn’t just spend it. Anything over 65-percent of the fund would have to be made up from the general fund.

“This is a really big deal,” Sanders said. “I’m going to really be watching.”

The next meeting of the Mercer County Fiscal Court will be at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at the Mercer County Fiscal Courthouse.

For the rest of the story, check out this week’s issue of the Harrodsburg Herald.

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