Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tax rates raised to keep city revenue stable; new, joint city-county fire station is a possibility

By Drew Teague and Cassandra Shouse
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Taxpayers in Midway will be paying 3 cents more per $1,000 of assessed value in taxes on real property after the City Council voted Tuesday evening to raise the tax in order to stabilize the city's revenue in the wake of lower property assessments.

The tax rate on real property will be 10.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, up from last year’s 10.2 cents per $100. The new rate is designed to generate about the same amount of money from real property as in 2011.

According to the tax calculation sheet given to council members, the value of Midway’s real property, or property that is immovable, such as land and buildings, in 2011 was $99,413,900. This produced revenue of $101,402. For the year 2012, the assessed value of real property decreased by 2.19 percent, or $2,172,500, to $97,241,400. Had the tax rate stayed at 10.2 cents, Midway would have collected $99,186, a 2.1 percent decrease from 2011.

To get approximately the same revenue, the tax rate would have to be 10.4278813 cents per $100, according to the calculation sheet provided by the state Revenue Cabinet. The law requires the rate to be rounded up to the nearest tenth of a cent, resulting in the 10.5 cent rate. The 0.3 cent bump is a 2.9 percent increase in the rate that will produce a 1.94 percent increase in revenue because the rate was rounded up. It is expected to produce $103,269 in revenue.

State law allows the council to raise tax revenue up to 4 percent without being subject to a petition for a referendum on the new rate.

The tax on personal property tax was also raised because of a decrease in assessed value. The rate is now 16 cents per $100, up from 14.5 cents, a 10.3 percent increase in the rate. This is also a compensating but rounded-up rate; the tax will only generate about $1,850 in revenue for the city.

The council approved Mayor Tom Bozarth’s appointments to the new Vacant Property Review Board, created by the new ordinance that will raise tax rates on property that the board rules is blighted and is not fixed up to 75 cents per $100. The board members are Dale Benson, Eddie Hardy and Council Member Doris Leigh.

Council Member Dan Roller questioned Leigh’s appointment, noting that she had voted against the ordinance. Leigh said she did so only because she thought a board member should be both a resident and property owner in the city, “not just a renter.”

County firefighters Thomas Hagan, left, and
Timothy Rader clean a truck Tuesday evening.
New fire station?

Magistrate Larry Craig spoke about renewed hopes for a new Woodford County fire station in the Midway district. He said the existing station stands on the site of an old pond, resulting in flooding whenever there are heavy rains, and the new county fire chief is interested in a new building that both the city and county departments could use.

Craig, who is captain of the county’s Midway unit, said the old sewage plant could be a home for the new fire station. The proposed location is just on the other side of Interstate 64 from the county's existing station.

Bozarth suggested forming a committee to study the issues and make recommendations. Craig said he would take that idea to the county fire board’s next meeting, in early October.

Business survey, donations

Expansion was also on the mind of three master-of-business-administration students from Midway College. Phil Luckett, Ydaisa Gomez, and Srihari Medam, surveyed 123 residents, customers, visitors, and business owners and found that people visited Midway mostly because of its restaurants, with arts and crafts second.

The downside was the respondents thought too many establishments closed earlier, and there was not a lot of available parking. To increase business, the students suggested more parking and store hours that are more in line with those of the restaurants.

Ellen Gregory, chief spokesperson for Midway College, asked the council for $1,000 to support the college’s new lecture and convocation series, which will begin Sept. 13 with a lecture by author Dorothy Moore. To find out more, click here.

The series will also feature the American Spiritual Ensemble and a panel of women athletes to mark the 40th anniversary of Title IX, which guarantees gender equality in intercollegaite athletics. Council members unanimously agreed to make the donation.

Another program in need of money is Cops for Kids, operated by the Versailles Police Department, which patrols countywide. Officers take underprivileged children in their cruiser to a store to shop. Normally the charity receives money from profits of a haunted house, but this year has no location for it.

Bozarth said six children from Midway were in the program last year, at a cost of about $150 per child, and the police wanted unspecified financial support. However, some council members weren’t sure if they should or could use taxpayers’ money for charitable donations. Arnold suggested that the matter be tabled until the next meeting, Sept. 17, and Bozarth agreed.

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