Tuesday, magistrates on the Lincoln County Fiscal Court split on the issue of raising taxes to generate a four percent increase in the county’s revenue from property and real estate. With a very light turnout at last week’s public hearing on the topic, Judge Executive Jim Adams asked for a motion to increase taxes to the point where they would generate an additional $25,000 of revenue for the county.
Adams reminded the magistrates of all of the offices and services that they currently fund and that the increase would only cost a homeowner with a $100,000 home an additional three dollars. “If you eat at McDonald’s, that’s just one Big Mac. If you chew, that’s just one pouch of tobacco.”
Magistrate David Faulkner made a motion to accept the four percent revenue option and Dexter Todd seconded it. Magistrates John Padgett and Joe Stanley voted against the raise, and Faulkner and Todd voted for it. Adams was the tie-breaker, voting “yes.”
Last week, Lincoln County Republican Party Chairman Jerry Shelton had said that those who wanted to raise taxes were “Tax and spend Democrats.” When reminded Tuesday that the two no-voting magistrates were Democrats and the two yes-voters were Republicans Shelton said, “I talked to Dexter Todd on this, and he is dead wrong.”
Fellow Republican Candace Franklin said, after the vote, “ We aren’t going to get people and businesses to move here by raising taxes.”
Magistrates also voted to accept an amendment to the county’s nuisance ordinance that will speed up the process of cleaning up nuisance properties and reduce the amount of work and time that county officials have to put into getting troublesome properties cleaned up.
Adams explained that a new state law, signed by Governor Steve Beshear in the spring, streamlined the process of cleaning up nuisance properties. The new ordinance allows counties to give a property owner only 30 days to clean up a property after they have been cited. “We can go in and clean up a property on the 31st day,” Adams said.
After being cited, property owners can appeal the citation to the Nuisance Board, the Fiscal Court and finally the Circuit Court if they feel their property is not a nuisance. If the owner of a cited property does not file a timely appeal, the county will clean it up, probably using a contractor to more accurately capture the cost of the process. After the property has been cleaned up, the owner will have 30 days to pay the cost of the process or the property can be seized and sold at auction.
County Attorney Daryl Day said the ordinance, “Puts the burden where it belongs, on the person who was cited.”
Magistrates also accepted a change to the county’s ordinance regarding antenna towers. The new ordinance removes control over towers used by broadband wireless Internet providers to propagate their services from the Planning and Zoning Board. Adams said that control of these towers, in the 30-40 foot range, would come under the purview of the county emergency manager and there would probably be no inspection involved.
Permits and inspections for cellular phone towers, some that range as high as 180 feet, will still be under the control of Planning and Zoning.
In other business, the court asked County Engineer Alan Bowman to estimate the cost of erecting restroom facilities at the beach at Cedar Creek Lake. Adams asked Bowman how much it would cost to make a “bulletproof” restroom which got a chuckle from the crowded courtroom, but Adams explained, “You’ll have to make it bulletproof or it won’t last. It’s out in the middle of nowhere and they’ll tear it up.”
For the county to be completely in compliance to operate a swimming beach at the lake an emergency telephone needs to be installed as well as a handicap accessible restroom and its accompanying sewer or septic system. Bowman said he would report back to the court on how much it would cost to get the beach in compliance.
After Fiscal Court concluded for the day, the magistrates and judge executive joined members of the county’s two American Legion posts at First Southern Veterans Park. An M-26 Pershing tank was recently installed at the entrance to the park as the first of what could be several pieces of military equipment to serve as a memorial to veterans. Posts 18 and 345 and the Ladies’ Auxiliary raised $2,400 to offset the cost of moving the tank to Lincoln County from Franklin County where it resided in front of a now-defunct Disabled American Veterans post.
Before the tank could be installed, a cement pad capable of holding the tank’s 46-tons had to be completed and the county had to hire some equipment capable of lifting the tank onto the pad. Post 18 Commander Lynn Young presented the check to Adams, saying, “I know we just dropped this (expense) on you; I know it wasn’t in the budget, so Post 18 and Post 345 and the Ladies’ Auxiliary all pitched in to help pay for it.”
Accepting, Adams said, “Thank you on behalf of the Fiscal Court. This is your monument, the first of a few we hope you have. This area is yours.” Adams also suggested that if the veteran community felt it was appropriate, the county could look into moving the monument that currently stands on the front lawn of the court house to the park.
Magistrate Joe Stanley told the assembled vets, “We appreciate what you’ve done, and what you did years ago.”