HAZARD—For what many officials said may be the first time ever, the Hazard City Commission voted to raise property taxes in the city limits during its regular monthly meeting Monday night.
City Manager Grady Varney addressed the commissioners, of whom only Ricky Steele and Jimmy Lindon were in attendance, about what would be the first reading of the new property tax rate ordinance for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
Grady said the current property tax rate is at around 29 cents per every $100 assessed property evaluation in the city. The new rate would increase that by two cents, to around 31 cents per $100.
City attorney Paul Collins spoke to the commissioners about the seemingly unprecedented raise in taxes.
“To my knowledge, it’s never been raised,” Collins said, explaining that the rates had not been raised in so long because the city government had seen a steady income of revenue from other taxes, but said now those funds were leveling off and a tax increase was necessary.
Lindon also spoke on the issue before the vote was taken.
“We’ve got to have some help,” Lindon said. “You’ve got to have taxes because that’s the way you generate income to help run the government—nationwide—so the City of Hazard’s no different.”
The commissioners voted unanimously to accept the ordinance.
A second reading of and vote on the ordinance will be held Thursday, Aug. 21, at 9 a.m. at Hazard City Hall. This will be the final vote on the tax rates for the year.
In other business, the commissioners also heard monthly reports from the Hazard Fire Department (HFD) and the Hazard Police Department (HPD).
Hazard Fire Chief Sam Stacy addressed the commissioners, explaining some of the activities the HFD had been involved with in July.
Stacy said the department had overseen the Fourth of July fireworks display in the city, conducted a number of station tours for kids, and had escorted the Hazard-Perry 9- and 10-year-olds and 12- and 13-year-olds little league teams after their big wins at the state championship.
Stacy also noted that the HFD had responded to 38 calls for the month, which consisted of 25 fires and 13 rescues.
Chief of Police Minor Allen was present to give the HPD monthly report for July.
According to the report, the department had worked 53 cases total for the month, 23 felony and 30 misdemeanor, and had recovered $9,695 of the $43,141 in stolen property in its cases. Officers had also worked 50 traffic cases, including five injury accidents and no DUI related accidents.
Allen also reported on the condition of a HPD officer, Lt. Paul Campbell, who earlier this year had been diagnosed with stage four colon cancer and is currently undergoing treatment.
“He came by today and had finished his second round of chemo,” Allen said. “He’s still doing pretty good, and we’re praying for a speedy recovery for him.”
The commissioners then went into an executive session to discuss personnel matters before adjourning.