UPDATE: Council weighs in on Rescue, E-911 issues

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Tax, merger, change in oversight and funding all part of discussion.

By James Roberts

An ambulance tax. A decreased contribution from the county. Merged government. All were options discussed at Monday night's regular City Council meeting as Council members took up the ongoing issue of funding for Rescue and E-911.

Councilman Randy Herron, who is on a joint city/county committee to discuss Rescue and E-911, gave a brief recap of last week's committee meeting.

Herron said five options surfaced at the meeting. Those options are:

  • Allow the county to operate E-911. Herron said he was told there would be no change to employees, operations or the structure of E-911.
  • The county continues to contribute funding to the city for the operation of Rescue and E-911. Herron said magistrates on the committee made it clear that amount would not be $650,000, which is what the county currently pays annually. Instead, it could be as low as $175,000.
  • The county provides its own EMS service, while the current Rescue operates only within the city limits. Herron said this option still leaves funding for E-911 unresolved.
  • The county operates both Rescue and E-911 if the city drops its 1 percent occupational tax.
  • An ambulance taxing district is established, which would allow Rescue to operate independently of the city and county governments. Herron said both governments would lower their occupational taxes accordingly so that residents aren't paying additional taxes.

Aside from Herron, Committee members include Magistrates John Gaines and James Jones and City Councilman Jimmy Ewing.

County Attorney John Bertram and City Attorney John Miller also attended the meeting, along with Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers and Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young.

Ewing did not attend Monday's Council meeting, as were Councilman Terry Keltner and Miller.

The taxing district option received the most discussion at Monday's Council meeting.

Herron said he called three counties - Green, Adair and Hart - that have ambulance taxing districts. Herron said all three had issues funding the services before the taxing districts were established.

"All say it is a great thing and they don't have this bickering back and forth," Herron said.

Green County's 10-cent tax on real property and motor vehicles brings in about $330,000 a year. Adair County's 4-cent tax on real property and 8-cent tax on motor vehicles and personal property brings in about $220,000. Hart County's 7.5 cents on real property, 4.5 cents on motor vehicles and 9 cents on personal property brings in about $500,000.

"I think the ambulance district is the way to go," Herron said.

However, Herron said, the Fiscal Court must vote to enact the district. Once that happens, he said, the county would than appoint a board and that board would set the tax rates.

Councilman David Nunery asked if an ambulance taxing district could also operate the rescue service and E-911.

Herron said that it could, but he was in process of getting more information from the Kentucky League of Cities.

Later in the meeting, Councilwoman Patti Phillips asked how the city and county could enact a new tax on residents considering the state of the economy.

No one responded.

As for the second option, in which the county continues to provide funding to the city for the operation of Rescue and E-911, Councilman Greg Rice said he would like to see the county contribute $450,000 and the city trim the remaining $200,000 from the budget.

Young said under this option, the city would assume all responsibilities for E-911. Currently, the county pays the salaries of two E-911 employees.

Young said he would like to see Rescue and E-911 budgets trimmed by $100,000 each. He didn't say how that would be done.

Councilman Stan McKinney said there are two other options - merged government or the county passing a 2 percent occupational tax. McKinney said funding for Rescue and E-911 would come from that tax and the city and county would split the remaining revenue.

McKinney asked twice during the meeting that a committee be appointed to study merger.

Nunery said merged government makes sense. He said one government equals one budget.

Both Nunery and Young took issue with Rogers telling the News-Journal that a solution needs to be found that would allow the city and county to go their own ways.

Though he did not say who, Herron said some magistrates plainly stated that they did not want to share revenue with the city.

"I think we need to come together, not go our own way," Nunery said.

Young said that he wants to continue working with the county and exhaust every option.

"It needs to be solved once and for all," McKinney said.

The Council set a special meeting to discuss the issue further before the next committee meeting. The Council will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 14 in the City Council room above Campbellsville Police Department. The meeting is open to the public.

The next city/county committee meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19 at Rescue.


Also at the meeting

-- Young read the February financial report.

February revenue ($806,237.81) was above budget ($803,910). Year-to-date revenue ($6.3 million) was also above budget ($6 million).

February expenses ($621,664.39) were under budget ($660,989.50). Year-to-date expenses ($6.1 million) remain over budget ($5.6 million).

February Water Co. revenue ($348,679.81) was under budget ($394,251.65). Year-to-date revenue ($3.3 million) is above budget ($3.1 million).

February Water Co. expenses ($398,249.78) were under budget ($408,189.94). Year-to-date expenses ($3.3 million) are over budget ($3.2 million).

The report was approved unanimously.

-- Nunery said he and Miller discussed the flood plain issue with Chris Hart, the state national flood insurance coordinator. Nunery said the ordinance is all about insurance and that the $10 fines the city discussed were not an issue, according to Hart.

"I feel better about the ordinance now that we've talked about it," Nunery said.

The Council is expected to take action on the ordinance next month.

--Mark Rogers was reappointed to the Ethics Board, while Carol Kirtley was appointed to fill a seat vacated by Sam Wickliffe. Both terms are four years.

--Councilwoman Vangie Ford asked why there wasn't a One Call Now warning sent out alerting residents of Monday's tornado warning.

E-911 Supervisor Anne Sanders said the warning was only for a very small portion of the northwest tip of the county and, in reality, was more for Marion county than Taylor. Some news outlets reported a tornado warning for Taylor County, but Campbellsville Fire Chief Allen Johnson said that was simply incorrect.

-- Young said that he would be formally questioning 2010 Census data. Young said data shows that the city lost more than 1,000 residents since the 2000 Census. McKinney agreed that the results seem wrong, saying that the city's population should have grown.

-- The Council had second readings of an ordinance of intent to annex and an ordinance of consent to annex. Both ordinances are simply "cleanups" of previous ordinances and are not new annexations.

-- Young declared April as spring cleanup month in Campbellsville. He encouraged everyone to pitch and help clean the city of roadside litter.