After the Madison County Fiscal Court voted unanimously Tuesday morning to maintain the $.10 tax rate for motor vehicles and watercraft, County Judge/Executive Kent Clark gave a brief update on the taxing districts within the county.
“We have received every taxing district's final estimate of what they're going to charge, and everybody has stayed the same or gone a little bit lower, except for the school board,” Clark said.
Clark said he talked to Superintendent Elmer Thomas about the issue, who said the school board was trying to schedule a special meeting so the rate can be decided on and sent to the county for acknowledgement by Sept. 10.
“We must have all the tax rates in here by Sept. 10,” Clark said. “It's imperative that we do that because we've been working with Kenny (Barger) to get these out so that people can start paying their taxes the first of October.”
Clark said a similar problem arose in the past when the Berea Community Schools Board missed the deadline. The school board had to collect their own taxes, which “didn't go so well,” he said.
Madison County Tax Watch member Debbie Secchio, who was present at the meeting, said the fact that the school board is late makes it seem to her that either the board is neglecting to say they are keeping their rates the same, or they planning to raise rates. She asked the court to “seriously consider” rejecting a proposed tax raise from the board.
“That (a tax increase) is not respectful to the economic climate, the people that have been furloughed, lost jobs, and the families that are struggling,” Secchio said.
Clark told Secchio the court doesn't have the authority to reject a change in tax rates from a district.
“It's in the law that we listen to them and we approve them, and we've had magistrates vote against them before, but we have no authority to reject,” Clark said.
In other business, the court:
• Awarded a $61,635 bid to Thoroughbred Publishing of Lexington to create the 2014 CSEPP calendar.
• Awarded a $404,000 bid to Windstream for a new EMA/CSEPP phone system.
• Voted to refinance a KACO loan for the Sheriff's department to purchase new vehicles. According to Clark, Sheriff Jerry Combs took the original loan to purchase four vehicles under the condition he pay one vehicle off per year. With the refinance, Sheriff Mike Coyle would be allowed to purchase three more vehicles using the same plan to pay them off one per year.
• Proclaimed the month of September “Gear Up Month” to raise awareness for the Gear Up program, which aims to increase students' college readiness and college awareness in rural areas.
The next fiscal court meeting will be Sept. 10 at the Police and Municipal Building in Berea, 304 Chestnut St.
Seth Littrell can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6623.