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Ft. Wright Debating What Its Property Tax Rate Will Be this Year

Further discussions took place Wednesday evening amongst Fort Wright City Council members toward  solving the city’s tax rate puzzle for fiscal year July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016, regarding real estate, personal, and mixed-use property. In an effort to clear any gray area before council sits down for a final vote next month, Mayor Dave Hatter read aloud a document from the Northern Kentucky Area Development District (NKADD). Enclosed within: “Our Q-rate one, compensating rate for 2015, every city is guaranteed this rate and they put that at .267, which is actually slightly less than the rate we took last year, .268, which was compensated plus-two as I recall, so that’s what they (N.K.A.D.D) say is the compensating rate,” he read. 

“It has never been clear to me that there’s really two ways to compute the compensating rate. My understanding has always been is that the compensating rate is designed to make sure that you generate at least the same base-level money that you did the previous year,” Hatter began. “We would actually take a slight decrease to guarantee the same amount of tax revenue for property taxes at a compensating rate.”

As a second option, the state document covered “substitute rates,” listed at .276 – akin to a tax increase, according to Hatter, and a term neither he nor council members were familiar with. “Now most of you have been here for a while…have any of you heard of the substitute rate before? I have not.”

How is it possible that the city’s property base increased, yet the compensating rate would not drop?, Hatter questioned. How could the rate not decrease to get to the same level?, he asked.

Councilman Bernie Wessels: “The bottom line is, we have a budget with proposed revenues and we need to cover the expenses that we all felt was necessary when we approved the budget. Whether or not that additional revenue is coming from more job creation or another source of revenue that we have, I believe that we said we need to have a two-percent increase in revenue to cover those expenses,” he said.

The tax rate debate will continue at the city’s next meeting on September 2 at 6 p.m.

Other Notes:

An additional ordinance passed regarding the establishment of an assessed rate of $149.54 for the collection of waste and recyclables, ending June 30, 2016.

The Kyles/Dixie project, delayed by the state for numerous years, will be completed by the city itself if an agreement isn’t reached within a week or two, Hatter said, adding that the option is not ideal.

Fort Wright is in preliminary discussions on ways to keep city properties in good condition and a partnership with several area high schools could be in the works for them to provide volunteers to assist in cleanup where it is needed. The city’s Preservation Committee will talk about the proposal as well, aiding in the future decision.

Tracking software, Share Point, will be rolled out over the course of several weeks by Hatter. “Stuff that needs to get done but kind of falls through the cracks,” will be on the program he said, which council members and staff will have access to once it is up-and-running.

Written by Jason Finnell, RCN contributor