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Mayor Plans to Lower Taxes in Erlanger

Erlanger property owners may soon see a reduction in their tax rate.

Mayor Tyson Hermes called a special meeting for Tuesday where he plans to announce that he wants to reduce the tax rate for the city. Currently the tax rate is $3.57 per $1,000 of real property value, and $6.09 per $1,000 of tangible value, which applies to cars and boats and such.

Hermes will propose reducing the rate to $3.47 per $1.000 of real property value, and $5.99 per $1,000 of tangible value. The tax rate has not gone down in Erlanger for the last two decades.

"This is something that will set Erlanger apart from every other city in Northern Kentucky," Hermes said proudly. "We will be the only city whose taxes are trending downward instead of going up. This is part of the reason I ran for office. I said I would lower taxes. I knew the city leadership needed a new 'game plan', and that the public was getting tired of the small, consistent tax increases. I want to increase revenue for the city by bringing in businesses, and making Erlanger a more desirable place to live and work."

Hermes has not had the easiest first seven months in office but said that he has worked hard to ease tensions, and said that he is succeeding in promoting an understanding with his colleagues in administration and the twelve member council.

He wants to make it clear how he arrived at the tax decrease decision.

"We have not cut the city staff, or the services to our residents," Hermes stated. "We have cut our spending, tightened our budget, and exceeded our growth expectations in these first seven months of my term. This is the result of tireless efforts of the city staff, especially our city administrator, Marc Fields, and Greg Engelmann, our director of finance. I have told them from day one, this is my top priority and I feel blessed to have such a devoted group to work with."

The last tax rate decrease was 16 years ago, when the rate was reduced $0.04 per $1,000 of real value, and that decrease went back up the very next year.

"Our city's taxes have been gradually creeping up each year thanks to a dirty little thing called Compensating Rate Increases," Hermes explained. "The Compensating Rate allows cities to increase their tax rates when the tax based revenues go down. For example, if property values go down and revenue for the city drops, a Compensating Rate Increase allows the city to increase their rates to 'collect the same amount' as the previous year without having to get the consent of the citizens. This was initially developed by the state of Kentucky to reimburse tax dollars to residents in cities that were growing too quickly. By the time it was adopted into law the language was twisted so that it would apply to very successful cities and failing cities alike. It has become the overused 'crutch' of cities statewide, and removed all incentive for them to improve."

Hermes feels confident this tax cut will attract businesses to the city.

"Businesses bring jobs, and jobs bring single family homeowners," Hermes continued. "All of which builds momentum to lighten the tax burden on the individual. Yes, I said I would lower the tax rates (during the campaign.) I want to continue to work on lowering property taxes, but I also want to lower our payroll taxes, and our insurance premium taxes, too."

The proposal will be presented to Erlanger city council on Tuesday, August 18, in a special meeting immediately following a regularly scheduled council committee meeting scheduled for 6:30 pm at the city building.

"It's going to be in the hands of our city council to decide," Hermes concluded. "This is only the beginning."

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

Photo: Tyson Hermes (RCN file)