Court approves changes to payroll tax ordinance

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By Calen McKinney

Those who work in Taylor County will soon see a bit more of their paychecks taken by taxes.

Magistrates discussed state mandated changes to county occupational tax ordinances at the regular Fiscal Court meeting last week.

County Attorney Craig Cox told magistrates that the state has eliminated the ability of Kentucky's counties to exempt certain deferred compensation funds from occupational taxes.

Currently, occupational taxes are not taken from an employee's total wages, and certain funds, including retirement plans and some pre-tax medical insurances, are exempt from the occupational tax.

Therefore, he said, the County will pick up additional occupational tax revenue as a result of the change.

Cox said he included the state mandated changes in the County's current occupational tax ordinance to form a new ordinance.

However, he said, the County's ordinance also includes a few provisions that are not state mandated and magistrates should review those to see if they would like those included or deleted from the new ordinance.

Cox said several exemptions that weren't previously mandated but were included in the County's ordinance are also now mandated.

He said the County's current ordinance includes a provision that exempts money earned from renting or leasing one or two apartments. Cox said County Occupational Tax Clerk Sherry Kerr recommends deleting that provision.

Other items Cox asked magistrates to consider include an exemption for the first $2,000 earned by those ages 65 and older, the exemption of money received for leasing less than 1,000 pounds of tobacco, an exemption for those who work in an agriculture business that employs less than five people and an exemption for those who work in domestic services.

Cox said other state-mandated changes increase the penalties for not paying occupational taxes and change the time period to receive credit for overpayment of occupational taxes from one year to two.

In October, County Treasurer Melissa Williams said the County could pick up as much as $200,000 to $300,000 more in occupational tax funds because of the changes, which would be divided with the City.

Kerr said last month that Kentucky's counties must begin taxing deferred compensation funds by July 1, 2008, however, it has been recommended to her that the County begin doing so at the beginning of the 2008 calendar year for bookkeeping purposes.

Magistrates unanimously approved first reading of the new ordinance. After the meeting, Rogers said magistrates are expected to have second reading in December so the changes can take effect in January.

Cox said magistrates should look over the changes before the Court's December meeting and see if there is anything else they would like to change.

Rogers said the changes to the County's occupational tax ordinance in no way make any changes to the County's occupational tax agreement with the City.

Also at the meeting:

- Magistrates approved the acceptance of Tanglewood, Aaron Way, Ten Oaks Drive, Amy Lane and a portion of a road near Wooleyville Road into the County road system when all paperwork has been completed.

On Monday, Cox said the roads are in the process of being completed and some of the roads are gravel. He said they were accepted with the condition that the roads may remain that way even though magistrates are finalizing new requirements, which state that roads must be blacktopped to be accepted into the County road system.

- Magistrates approved the appointment of Taylor County Animal Shelter Director John Harris to one of the County's solid waste coordinator positions.

Rogers told magistrates that one of the County's current solid waste coordinators - Frankie Graham - has asked to step down from the position. Rogers said Harris has currently been performing the majority of a solid waste coordinator's duties by overseeing inmates to clean roads in the County.

Magistrate Richard Phillips asked if Harris would be able to serve both as a solid waste coordinator and as director the animal shelter. Harris said he would and has actually been doing so for several months. Harris will not receive any additional pay for the position, Rogers said.

Taylor County's other solid waste coordinator is Debbie McNear.

- Rogers told magistrates they have been given a preliminary jail budget in their monthly Court meeting packet. He said he would like them to look over those figures and come to the December Fiscal Court meeting with some ideas as to how the County could combat a potential shortfall in funds of about $300,000.

- Magistrates approved a resolution adopting the County's new five-year waste plan. Rogers said the plan will take effect in 2008 and end in 2012.

On Monday, McNear said no major changes were made to the plan, only the changing of a few names and the addition and removal of a few dump sites.

- Magistrates agreed to lease a $100,000 dump truck through Worldwide Equipment.

Jim Dotson of Worldwide Equipment spoke to magistrates and told them about his company that offers leasing equipment to government entities.

Dotson said the County could lease the truck for a year and then sell the truck at an auction. His company, he said, would guarantee that the County receive up to 91 percent of the purchase price of the truck at the auction.

Dotson said leasing a dump truck would eliminate the County paying for maintenance on the vehicle because of its one-year bumper-to-bumper warranty.

He said the majority of counties that lease vehicles with his company borrow the money to pay for the vehicle from KACo. That way, he said, counties only have to make a monthly interest payment until the vehicle is sold at auction.

- Magistrates approved a request from Taylor County Address Coordinator Bonnie Childers to hire a part-time employee to help prepare for the Taylor County Census report due in 2010. Rogers said Childers needs help with mapping new roads and addresses. The employee will work from two to three hours, three days a week, and be paid $7.25 an hour.

- Ann Beard and Sharon Wood were appointed to the Taylor County Extension Council.

- Rogers told magistrates that about 475 people participated in the recent Clean Taylor County event.

- Rogers announced that part-time Taylor County Animal Shelter employee Jannifer Allen's probationary employment period is up and she was promised a full-time position. Rogers asked magistrates to appoint her as a part-time employee working 35 or fewer hours a week. He said hiring a part-time employee and paying retirement benefits would save the County money when compared to hiring another full-time employee. Magistrates approved Rogers' request.

- Luke Williams of Taylor Regional Hospital presented TRH's 2007 Hero Award to Magistrate John Gaines. Williams said the award is voted on by TRH employees.

- Magistrates had second reading of three budget amendments. First, magistrates approved accepting $52,000 in a KACo lease for the Taylor County Sheriff's Department's program support fund. Second, magistrates approved accepting about $757,000 in state road aid funding. Lastly, magistrates approved accepting $10,000 in a state ASAP grant to victim's assistant support.

- Magistrates approved the transfer of $241,412.75 from the general fund to the jail fund.

- About $1.2 million in occupational taxes has been collected this fiscal year. About $584,000 has been collected since the Court's September meeting.

- Magistrates met for about 30 minutes in executive session to discuss litigation. No action was taken.

- Staff Writer Calen McKinney can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 235 or by e-mail at reporter@cknj.com.