By Greg Bird
During last week’s monthly meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court the court took steps to give a small cost of living salary increase to Jailer Jessie Hatfield as well as setting the tax rates for the coming year.
At the request of Magistrate Roger Phillips Hatfield was given a 1.9 percent consumer price index raise, increasing his annual salary from $27,996.80 to $28,537.60. Since the Jailer is acting as Chief Transport Officer and is an elected official, the only raise available to Hatfield was the CPI. Only when the position begins a new term of office after an election can the Fiscal Court elect to provide a more significant salary increase.
Additionally Transport Officers were given a stipend of $27, the equivalent of two hours wages for each bond they write. A bond is a fee paid by the arrestee guaranteeing they will appear for a court date. If a prisoner is able to pay a bond, they can do so after the initial arrest and avoid being taken to jail.
Phillips explained that Hatfield had been refusing to allow his officers to write bonds as he felt it was unfair they were only being paid their hourly rate ($13.50/hour) for writing bonds, particularly when they are called out in the middle of the night. Often the officer would be called to duty for less than an hour to complete the paperwork.
The Fiscal Court noted it would be cheaper for the County to pay the stipend and allow for the officers to collect bonds rather than pay the cost to transport and house the prisoner. Typically it would cost the County $50 for the transport and at least $30 a day to house the prisoner.
The Court also approved their property and motor vehicle tax rates for the coming year.
With the overall property assessment higher than last year, County entities either kept the same property tax rates as the year before, or slightly lowered their rates by taking the compensating rates. Tangible, or personal property assessments came in lower this year, prompting two agencies to raise their rates in that area.
Tax rates for the County remained the same: with 9.3 cents per $100 of value for property and 20.4 cents for motor vehicles and watercraft. The Library Board lowered their property tax rate from 7.5 cents to 7.4, but the rate for personal property increased from 8.22 cents to 8.51 cents per $100.
The Board of Education adopted the compensating rate lowering their property tax rates 0.8 cents per $100 of value to 40.1, kept personal tax rates at 41.1 cents and motor vehicle rates at 46.7.
The McCreary County Extension Board lowered their property tax rate from 3.75 cents per $100 to 3.62 cents, but increased the personal property tax rate from 3.75 to 3.8752.
Rates for all five fire districts remained at 10 cents per $100, with rates for the Health Department and Soil & Conservation District remaining the same as well at 4 cents and 1.7 cents respectively.
While the Fiscal Court sets their own tax rates, it has no authority over rates for special taxing districts and can only acknowledge that those rates have been set.
Now that the process of setting rates is finalized the PVA’s office can begin printing tax bills. On or after October 1st McCreary County Sheriff Randy Waters’ office will mail out the bills to all property holders, allowing them to pay their taxes for the year.
In other Fiscal Court actions Thursday night:
The Court approved the hiring of Stuart Bryant as a Deputy Sheriff. Bryant will fill the slot originally intended for Tyler Watkins, who is recovering from wounds suffered in a July shooting. The Court was reassured that once Watkins is able to return to duty his position will be available for him. Watkins said this week he intends to return to duty around the first of the new year.
The Court approved appointments to the newly re-formed McCreary County Airport Advisory Board – Magistrates Bill Hale and Randy Maxwell along with Jack Lay, Tony Miller, Allen Jones and James Jackson.
Kathy Dishman was re-appointed as Commissioner of the West McCreary Fire District and Holly Daugherty was appointed to the McCreary County Tourism Commission to fill out a vacant position.
The Court rejected all bids opened last month concerning new lights for the baseball fields at the McCreary County Park due to the high costs, the Park Board will re-advertise for bids on the project.
Similarly, EMS Director Jimmy Barnett asked the Fiscal Court to reject all two bids received on planned construction of added space for the ambulance bays. Barnett stated he had received initial estimates of about $50,000 for the project, but all bids came in above $70,000 and will need to be re-bid.
Barnett did note the Ambulance Service will be adding new equipment through grant funding. The department will be receiving 4 new heart monitors, 6 video laryngoscopes and a new chest compression device. In all, $183,000 of equipment will be added at no cost to the county.
The next regular-scheduled meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court will be on Thursday, October 10 at 6:00 p.m.