Garrard OKs new tax on insurance

February 11, 2004|JIM LOGAN

LANCASTER - Garrard Fiscal Court continued its push to raise more funds Tuesday by giving initial approval to a new insurance tax and stepping up efforts to auction the county farm.

The insurance tax, like the farm sale, is intended to pay down the county's $4.5 million debt to the Kentucky Association of Counties.

The county borrowed the money to try to keep Garrard County Memorial Hospital from closing.

The tax approved Tuesday - 6 percent on all policies except health - was a point higher than had been discussed at the court's meeting in January.

At that time, it was estimated a 6 percent tax would generate about $425,000. That was rejected as excessive in favor of a 5 percent tax, which was estimated to raise about $350,000.


Although the discrepancy was noted by Magistrate Joe Leavell, the court unanimously approved first reading of the tax ordinance Tuesday. A final reading likely will come at the court's March meeting.

Details of the tax - such as how it would be billed and collected - remain unclear, but Judge-Executive E.J. Hasty said at January's meeting that the court would like to implement it by July 1, with the first returns rolling into the county about Dec. 31.

Leavell urged the court to use "every penny" of the tax money to pay down the KACO debt.

Doing so, he suggested, could help lessen the sting of the new tax, which he estimated would cost him $185 a year.

"I know it affects everybody pretty heavy," he said.

The court also stepped up its bid to sell the 147-acre county farm on Poorhouse Road.

Magistrates meeting Feb. 24 on how best to sell farm

After some discussion, the magistrates voted to hold a special meeting Feb. 24 to solicit proposals from auctioneers and real estate professionalson how best to sell the land.

The magistrates intend to auction the farm and want one person or company to handle the sale. But the details and ground rules on what the court should expect from such a relationship are a mystery to the magistrates.

For instance, should the court agree to pay for advertising for the auction? If so, how much would be reasonable, and where should it be?

Leavell said the court should consider auctioning the farm using a "buyer's premium," which is a fee paid to the auction house by the winning bidder in addition to the sale price.

On the advice of County Attorney Jeff Moss, the court agreed to the special meeting to solicit ideas on handling the sale.

From that meeting, he said, the court could set specific guidelines when it puts out the auction contract for bid.

"We're basically asking for help," he said.

In other court business Tuesday, the magistrates voted to establish a county cemetery board.

Proposed by Margaret Burkett, the five-person board would see to the upkeep of Garrard's old cemeteries.

Burkett said more than $400,000 in grants are available for cemetery maintenance but that a county needs a board to be eligible for the funds.

The board, which must be made up of three people from one political party and two from the other, is appointed by the judge-executive.

Anyone interested in serving on the board must be a county resident for at least a year.

Applications are due in the judge-executive's office by March 31.

The court also voted to give county employees a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for the next fiscal year.

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