Commission approves tax rates for city

Cris RitchieEditor

September 20, 2012

HAZARD – The Hazard city commission this week approved property tax rates for the year, and also voted to approve bids for a waterline extension project.

The city’s property tax rates have remained unchanged at 29 cents per $100 of assessed value for the past several years, and the rate will not change this year.

The commission approved the first reading of an ordinance to accept the tax rate on Monday, and approved the second reading during a special called meeting on Wednesday. City Manager Carlos Combs said the rate annually generates approximately $2.5 million, and he’s hopeful that the city can again collect a similar amount as property valuations in the city have not decreased this year.

In other business on Monday, the commission accepted the bid opening for a waterline project that’s cost will be covered by the Department of Abandoned Mine Lands (AML).

According to Combs, AML completed a study to determine if certain areas of the county are eligible for AML-funded projects in order to extend water service to certain areas of the county.

“The purpose of it is to try to get some of the people that’s not got water, on the water system,” Combs said.

The project bids the city approved on Monday include a bid for three water tanks, two with a capacity of 53,000 gallons, while the other can hold 47,000 gallons. Waterlines will also be installed for several communities, including Darfork, Lick Branch, Rock Lick Branch and Nats Branch. There will also be an upgrade to service in Flat Gap, and an extension of lines to Little Leatherwood and Delphia.

The project will come with a cost of more than $2 million. Adkins Excavation won the bid to install the lines, while Kentucky Glass-Lined Tank Systems, Inc. will install the water tanks.

In other business, Combs requested approval for Mayor Nan Gorman and other city officials to possibly tweak an agreement between the city and ecoPower Generation to provide water to a proposed power plant in the Coalfields Industrial Park in Chavies.

Officials with ecoPower announced in 2010 a plan to construct a wood-burning power plant in the industrial park. Though the construction has not yet begun, Combs said the company would need a certain amount of water, and an agreement that former Mayor Bill Gorman signed in 2009 agreed that the city would provide at least 100,000 gallons per day, not to exceed 150,000 gallons.

Combs said the city should do what it can to help the ecoPower plant come to fruition, and noted that Mayor Nan Gorman has a meeting with the mayor in Jackson about the possibility of an interconnect with the Breathitt County water system to ensure that the park will at all times have access to an adequate flow of water for the businesses located there. He added that AML would fund the interconnect.

City Engineer Hank Spaulding noted that the city at present would be able to supply the needed flow of water at least 98 percent of the time, but there may be an emergency situation where the flow may fall below that number.

“The interconnect, in my opinion, is crucial for this,” Combs added.

The commission approved Combs’s request to revisit the previous agreement.