Magistrate questions tax

By Karissa Blackburn - [email protected]

PIKEVILLE, Ky. — One Pike County magistrate has voiced concerned over a tax passed unanimously by the court last fiscal year to help balance the 2015-16 budget.

At Tuesday’s Pike County Fiscal Court meeting, Dist. 1 Magistrate Jeff Anderson called for a repeal of the much-debated occupational tax passed last year, expressing reservations about how the money is being managed.

“There are some things that have been brought to my attention in the last couple of weeks that I don’t feel comfortable with,” Anderson said. “I was for the tax. I thought it could be a good thing for county government. And it still could be a good thing. But, if we are going to put an additional burden on the people of this county, we’ve got to make absolutely sure that our government is spending the money wisely and efficiently. Some things have been brought to my attention that indicate otherwise.”

The ordinance had a tough time passing through the court last year, but finally passed after much debate. The tax is expected to generate about $5 million for the county which was facing a $1.7 budget shortfall last year.

The court voted 7-0 on the budget deadline to adopt the one percent occupational tax and a one percent business net profit tax. The county also adopted an emergency 2015-2016 budget.

“If this tax hadn’t passed, at 12:00 tonight, the county would’ve shut down without a budget,” Pike County Judge Executive Bill Deskins reportedly said to several news outlets. Deskins says the county would have also been faced with difficult cuts and layoffs.

“The solid waste would’ve shut down, the magistrates, all six magistrates would’ve shut down and no road service, no service of any kind,” he said.

Not everyone was pleased with the passage of the tax. Critics say the tax will hurt poor people. During Tuesday’s Fiscal Court meeting, Anderson made a motion to reconsider the tax, but no one would second his motion.

The second reading of a proposed amendment to the Pike County Administrative Code concerning employee benefits was also tabled during the meeting to be discussed at the next meeting.

All current employees of the court will be grandfathered in and no changes in the code will effect these employees. However, all new full-time employees of the court will be hired under the new code which makes the following changes: $30,000 life insurance policy starting 60 calendar days after the first day of employment, a single person healthcare plan which may be upgraded by additional expense to the employee.

A few questions were raised about the amendment which could affect current employees. For that matter, the court motioned to table the passage of the amendment until the next regular Fiscal Court meeting.

By Karissa Blackburn

[email protected]

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