Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

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November 7, 2012

Olive Hill Council butts heads over property taxes

Nov. 7, 2012 —     Olive Hill City Council met in special session Monday night to conduct the second reading of an ordinance setting the property tax rate for the upcoming year.

    From the outset, there was confusion among Council members regarding the proposed rate.

    The original ordinance called for a rate of 20 cents per $100 valuation.

    According to City Clerk Cheri James, however, two numbers had been inadvertently transposed and the true rate is actually .2010 cents per $100 valuation.

    This actually represents a reduction from the current rate of .2287 but will ultimately amount to a four percent overall increase in tax revenue due to increased property values in the city.

    In a surprising move, Council members Tony Williams and Jerry Callihan then made a push to abandon the four percent increase rate and adopt the compensating rate of .1941 cents per $100 valuation.

    The compensating rate is the tax rate that the city would need to adopt to bring in the same amount of revenue as the previous year.

    Council member Linda Lowe expressed visible dissatisfaction at the unexpected turn of events.

    “Typically, a first reading gives you some idea of what the Council pleases to do – but not this Council,” Lowe said in frustration.

    “We need every dime we can get,” added Mayor Danny Sparks, also expressing irritation toward the push for a lower rate.

    Due to the confusion about the rate printed on the ordinance, as well as the competing views on which rate to adopt, the Council ultimately chose to re-conduct first readings of ordinances for both the compensating rate and the four percent increase.

    A public forum was held before the meeting, as required by state law.

    Former Mayor Jim Short, however, alleged that the Council did not follow proper procedure in scheduling the public forum.

    Short cited KRS 132.027, which contains a provision that if the city decides to adopt a tax rate that is higher than the compensating rate, it cannot hold a public forum until at least seven days, and no more than 10 days, after the second publication of that rate.

    The ordinance was published for the second time in the Oct. 31 issue of the Journal-Times – only five days before the public forum.

    With the first readings of new ordinances, however, the entire procedure must start again from the beginning.

    A new public forum date will be set within the appropriate window once the new proposed ordinances have been published twice.

    The meeting then adjourned with no other business conducted.

    The next regular meeting of the Olive Hill City Council is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the senior citizens center.

    Joe Lewis can be reached at jlewis@journal-times.com or by telephone at 286-4201.

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