By Leeann Akers - Editor
Aug. 21, 2013 —
The first reading of a 1.5 percent payroll tax ordinance was presented Tuesday night in Olive Hill.
City Council member Glenn Meade introduced the ordinance, which he said could conservatively bring in $125,000 annually for the city.
If passed in a second reading, all employees within the city would pay $1.50 per $100 of their gross income to the city.
The tax was introduced after the first reading of the 2013-14 budget.
In it, the city was forced to cut roughly $11,600 from five departments (police, fire, city government, sanitation, and street) and $2,000 from recreation to cover an anticipated $60,000 budget shortfall.
Both the police and fire chiefs told Council that the cuts were unacceptable.
"We already operate on less than what we need," said Police Chief Bobby Hall. "I don't understand how you can cut public safety which is the only thing the city is required to provide."
Fire Chief Wes Gilliam told Council that the department's ladder truck needs repair, which would take most of his budget.
"If one of the taller buildings in town or one of the schools caught fire right now, we couldn't stop it," Gilliam said. "You have cut and cut and cut our budget down to nothing. These men and women volunteer to save life and property- and this is how you repay them?"
Mayor Kenny Fankell told the Journal-Times that the cuts would mean no fire calls outside city limits, job cuts in the police department and city government, limited repairs to city streets and difficulty making the garbage truck payment within the sanitation department.
In the last Council meeting, a second budget was presented which made a $60,000 cut to the police department which Fankell said would mean leaving the FIVCO Area Drug Enforcement (FADE) task force.
The first 20 minutes of Tuesday's meeting was spent rehashing the two budgets.
Meade reminded Council that the city participated in FADE by ordinance, which currently means the city cannot withdraw.
City Attorney George Hogg was on hand to attest that reading more than one was legally acceptable.
"You need to stop asking stupid questions," Hogg said to Meade. "The mayor is the presiding officer of the meeting. I'm not going to answer your stupid questions just so you can get on television."
In other business, the city agreed to allow the Trail Town Committee to use the former city airport for camping during the Sept. 13-14 Heritage Trail Festival, provided the group can get insurance.
Council also agreed to have Hogg begin the process of condemnation and eventual demolition of a building owned by local businessman Donnie Lykins. Neighbors say the property has not been cleaned up since the 2010 flooding.
The next regular meeting of the Olive Hill City Council is set for Sept. 17.
Leeann Akers can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 474-5101.