Even as expenses related to the coronavirus pandemic continue to mount, Warren Fiscal Court took action Friday to keep its property tax rates steady for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
The magistrates voted 6-0 to keep the tax rate on real property at 14.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, a rate that hasn’t changed in more than a decade. They also voted to keep the tax on motor vehicles and watercraft at 16.2 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Friday’s tax resolution actually lowered the county’s tax on personal property from last year’s rate of 18.85 cents to 18.8.
County Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon also pointed out that the county’s four taxing districts – public health, library, extension service and conservation district – will have no tax increases this year.
“We haven’t raised taxes since 2009,” County Treasurer Greg Burrell said. “A lot of that is due to new construction, and we’ve also had some increases in tax assessments. Certain areas of the county have seen increases in property values.”
Among the fastest-growing areas in Kentucky, Warren County will still see a boost in tax revenue despite holding the line on tax rates.
Burrell said revenue from real property taxes is estimated to be $14,772,622 for the current fiscal year, an increase of $919,872 from the previous year.
The personal property tax is expected to bring in $2,121,860, a hike of $132,118 from last year.
The action on tax rates comes after fiscal court approved in May a 2020-21 budget of $48.5 million that was $4.5 million higher than the previous year, largely because of expenses related to the pandemic.
“We’re trying to ride out all the ups and downs of the coronavirus,” Burrell said. “We’re blessed to have a budget driven mostly by property taxes, which have been rising.”
That increase in revenue isn’t enough to offset the costs brought about by the pandemic, but Burrell said the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act is so far covering those added costs.
The magistrates approved Friday a resolution authorizing the filing of a Coronavirus Relief Fund application with the Kentucky Department for Local Government in order to be reimbursed for expenses related to the pandemic.
“We’re getting $4.9 million in CARES Act funding, and we’ve already spent a lot of that,” Burrell said. “Our first request was for $1.5 million, and this second one will probably be for about the same amount.”
Burrell said such items as added personnel, thermometers, hand sanitizer and cleaning equipment have continued to add up.
More pandemic-related spending items were approved Friday, including a $3,038.58 expense to purchase a Path-Guard fogging machine that will be used to disinfect the courthouse.
It’s the second such device the county has purchased from Bobby Rabold, who has the Kentucky and Tennessee distributorship for Path-Guard.
Buchanon said the first one, which is being used at the Warren County Justice Center, has worked well.
The magistrates also approved a resolution authorizing Buchanon to advertise for two security officer positions for monitoring and screening courthouse visitors.
Buchanon said the two positions will replace the Warren County Sheriff’s Office employees who have been screening visitors.
“The deputies and bailiffs need to return to their normal workloads,” Buchanon said. “The two part-time positions will be to greet and screen everyone who enters the courthouse, check their temperatures and direct them to the departments that provide the services they need.
“We have no idea how long the coronavirus will be with us, so we can’t be sure how temporary or permanent these jobs may be.”
Among other spending items approved by the magistrates Friday were:
- $7,995.40 to Staples for two Getac laptop computers for the Warren County Parks Department. County Parks and Recreation Director Chris Kummer said these devices provide mobile work stations for parks department staff.
- $5,160 for the purchase of a brush cutter for the parks department.
- $1,000 to DC Elevator for repairs to an elevator in the downtown parking structure.
- $3,019 to Four Winds for an enclosed box trailer (rope rescue) for the county’s technical rescue team.
- $1,087.50 to Automated Building Concepts for repairs to an air conditioner at the Warren County Regional Jail.