The issue of taxes was debated at the Campbell County Fiscal Court.
Wilder resident Jerry Gearding addressed the fiscal court last week and said that it was "easy" for it to raise taxes. Gearding said that tax increases should be a last resort, and he singled out the compensating rate approved for county property taxes.
Gearding also read excerpts from an email sent to him from Judge/Executive Steve Pendery who said the county's goal was to have the least amount of taxes for the highest level of services. In another excerpt, Gearding noted that Pendery said the county spends less per resident than other counties, and that the fiscal court is very careful when spending the tax dollars.
Gearding also questioned the expense of two attorneys to defend the fiscal court's position in a case involving the ethics board. The hiring of a seasonal employee at A.J. Jolly Park was challenged at the ethics commission on a charge of nepotism since the employee is the wife of the park's golf pro.
"The decision taken by the Ethics Commission is not ethical," Pendery stated flatly. "We are going to get to the bottom of this. This is, for us, a Fiscal Court reprimand."
Pendery went on to say the taxes go up every year on a federal level, and they are raised without people knowing. He said property taxes are about 20 to 25 percent of the money the county takes in, and most of the revenue routes are capped.
"We are pretty frugal," said Pendery.
Gearding said residents don't have the ability to go to their boss and ask for a raise to pay for the increase in taxes, and he thought the county should look into every single expenditure to try and save money.
Pendery said the county does, every day and every year, look at every expense, which is why they take a good half of a year to get the budget done. Pendery invited Gearding to come in and take a look at the budget, and Gearding said he appreciated that.
Commissioner Brian Painter said that the compensating rate gave the county about $300,000 more than it had and with 170 plus miles of road, the county can't pave roads without funds.
Commissioner Tom Lampe took issue with Gearding's comment that it was easy to raise taxes, and said once the budget is approved, it has to be paid for.
"It is not really easy to raise taxes," Lampe said. "It is a painful exercise."
Commissioner Charlie Coleman asked what the county ended the fiscal year with, and was told that it was a surplus of $2.4 million. He reiterated the question from Gearding about how hard it would be to get input from the citizens, but that he didn't expect an answer.
Coleman also questioned another item on the agenda, the proposed approval of a contract with the Campbell County Board of Education.
The county would spend $329,144.88 during the current fiscal year to transport parochial school students. Coleman said that the contract represented an increase of $80,000 year over year, and that public school students who live east of AA Highway are not being picked up.
Coleman said that those kids should be picked up, too.
"If we sign the contract tonight, the deal's over," Coleman said.
Judge Pendery said the contract could possibly be held over till next meeting, and said that he would like to see that both sides get together to see if the students could get on the route.
Commissioners approved several motions and resolutions:
*An update to the Animal Shelter Assistant manager position description, calling it instead the Lead Animal Technician,
*The appointment of Kimberly Meek to be the receptionist at the Animal Shelter,
*the appointment of Elisabeth Krummen as the new manager of the Animal Shelter,
*a motion to advertise for the position of Lead Animal Technician,
*the appointment of Alexis Yockey to be the Kennel Technician,
* the appointment of Matt Elberfeld to the NKY Regional Communications Board,
*a motion to accept the resignation of Jody Robinson from the TANK board,
* the appointment of Gina Rittinger to take the place of Robinson on the TANK board,
*a motion to advertise for bids to replace the irrigation pump at the golf course,
*to award the bid for snow removal to Professional Lawncare, Inc, and Nathan Heim,
*to request bids for radio equipment through a grant that will defray half the cost,
*to award the bid for Blossom Lane from US 27 to Southgate to Len Riegler construction, and
*to declare a list of property surplus so it can be advertised on govdeals.
Two Police officers took the oath of office Wednesday night. Robert Houp came from the Boone County Police Department, and he took the oath of office while his family looked on. T.J. French comes from Virginia, and he took the oath of office while his fiancee watched and pinned his badge on.
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor