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County sets tax rates, jail expense a concern

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By Dave Taylor

The members of Trimble County Fiscal Court on Monday voted to follow the recommendation of the Kentucky Department of Local Government in setting the tax rates for the 2012-13 year. The compensating rate suggested by the Department of Local Government for real property is 7.6 cents per $100. An increase would require a public hearing, according to Interim Judge-Executive Stephen Stark.

Stark was elected to the interim position during a special meeting of fiscal court on Aug. 16 following the resignation of former judge-executive Randy Stevens whose last day on the job was Wednesday, Aug. 15. Stark, who presided over Monday’s meeting, will serve until Governor Steve Beshear appoints a judge-executive who will complete Stevens’ term.

The motor vehicle and watercraft tax rate will remain at 8.8 cents per $100 assessed value, according to the action of the court. The fire acres rate is three cents per $100 and the bank rate will also remain the same as last year at .0002.

By taking the state-recommended compensating rate for personal property taxes “that allows you this year to match on personal property the same rate as you took on real property last year at 7.6 per $100,” Stevens, who attended the meeting as a spectator, said. The court agreed to keep the rate at 7.6 cents per $100.

County Incarceration Expense

The county’s expense of housing prisoners at the Carroll County Detention Center is consistently high each month. When the magistrates were considering the transfer of funds and paying claims, Stark said that last month Trimble housed 57 inmates for 648 days at the Carroll County Detention Center and the Oldham County Jail. Last month’s cost to the county’s jail fund for incarcerating prisoners per Trimble’s contract with other counties was $18,177.36.

“That figure is very, very high. Obviously, our new guys that are on patrol are quite busy,” he said, “and that’s going to make (Trimble County Attorney) Perry (Arnold)’s job fun, too, I’m sure.”

“One thing that’s contributing to that,” Arnold said, “was when they passed House Bill 463in 2011, if somebody in District Court doesn’t pay their fine and costs they’re allowed to sit in jail at $50 a day credited toward their fine and costs.”

Arnold said quite a number of prisoners who have passed through the District Court system have been doing that.

“Not only is the state losing $50 a day toward fine and costs, but you all are paying $33 a day to keep them over there so that’s another thing that caused the jail fees to go up,” Arnold said. “These people have it figured out that they don’t have to pay the fine and costs anymore. If they’ve got a $500 fine they can sit in jail for 10 days and they don’t have to pay it at all. But it’s costing you guys $33 a day. My suggestion would be to get with the state legislature and get at least that part of HB 463 repealed because it’s costing us a lot of money. It’s costing the state money in lost fines.”

Stark said this aspect of HB 463 has come up for discussion at “several of the meetings that I’ve attended with the Magistrate/Commissioner Association” so it’s a statewide concern among local governments.

In gesture regarding the Carroll County Detention Center, Second District Magistrate Kirby Melvin during last week’s special meeting submitted a check for $33.88 to reimburse the county for his incarceration following a DUI arrest on August 12.

“I want to show this on the record that I want to submit a check to fiscal court for a mistake that I made Saturday evening where I was put in the Carroll County Detention Center because it shouldn’t be a burden to the taxpayers of this county to pay for my mistake,” Melvin said.

Animal Shelter Personnel

Stevens told the court that one of the last items of business he closed before leaving office was to hire a part-time employee for the animal shelter.

“We hired a part-time person after a couple of interviews and a lot of interest,” he said. “This gentleman is very capable, a young man. His mom, Rita Davis, works over here at City Hall and she has been an extremely strong proponent of the spaying and neutering program. I offered that job to him at $9 per hour at 20 hours per week.”

Stevens said Henry County had also hired a part-time employee for the facility. “The two full-time animal control officers will schedule those folks so that the animal shelter is open and available to the public.”

Russell Spaulding is the new employee, Stevens said.

The court also approved the purchase at a cost of $1,037.19 of a radio, bar light, and amber lights for the animal control officer’s vehicle “for if she is called out late at night for an emergency or if the sheriff needs to reach her in an emergency,” Stark said. “We did go ahead and put decals on the vehicle to identify the vehicle.”