Commission votes to keep city’s current tax rate

Cris Ritchie — Editor

August 20, 2013

HAZARD – Property tax rates in the city of Hazard will remain unchanged for the current fiscal year.

The city commission voted unanimously on Monday to approve a tax rate of 29 cents per $100 of assessed value, a rate that has not been changed for three decades, noted City Manager Carlos Combs.

Mayor Nan Gorman said city officials would like to have the extra revenue to work with that a tax hike represents, but increasing taxes in Hazard, even in a time of uncertain revenues due to a declining economy, was never an option considered. The city recently increased water rates slightly, Gorman noted, though officials were only inclined to do so in order to obtain funding for much needed improvements to the city’s water system.

“We would not raise it (the tax rate), we can’t,” Gorman said, adding that an increase in local taxes would result in an undue hardship on the city’s residents.

Monday’s vote on the tax rate represented the measure’s first reading, and a second reading was scheduled to be held at City Hall on Wednesday.

In other business, the commission heard Chief Minor Allen’s monthly report of the Hazard Police Department. The city’s police officers opened a total of 38 cases in July, including 26 involving a felony crime. A total of $38,450 in property were reported stolen, of which officers recovered more than $16,000.

A total of 424 criminal charges were filed last month, two of which were noted as violent crimes. The vast majority (257) were traffic offenses, while 29 were drug related.

Officers also worked a total of 56 motor vehicle accidents in July, one of which included a fatality on the Ky. 15 bypass. The department also responded to 1,798 calls for assistance during the month.

Fire Chief Sam Stacy also presented his report to the commission for the month of July. The city’s fire department responded to a total of 50 calls during the month, 22 of which were reported as fires. The department also toured the new East Perry Elementary and aided in the school’s pre-planning, and also replaced an older ladder truck with a vehicle purchased earlier this year.