HAZARD — The September 18 meeting of the Perry County Fiscal Court was another long meeting as, in addition to setting tax rates and other regular business, several people brought concerns over county spending on vehicles and salaries.
During the business portion of the meeting, the court voted to maintain the county’s property taxes for the year, and also entered into the record new rates set by the boards of other taxing districts.
The only tax rates that can be set by the fiscal court are the county’s property taxes. These tax rates remained the same as they have for the past several years, at 9.5 cents per $100 of taxable property. This tax rate is expected to bring in $406,000 in personal property tax, and $1.1 million in real estate property tax.
Other taxing districts such as the Perry County Public Library also entered their tax rates for the record book. The library’s board lowered taxes from 15 cents per $100 to 14 cents. Another taxing district to lower taxes was the agricultural tax applied by the extension office. The Perry County Extension District Board lowered taxes from 28 cents per $100 to 25 cents for real estate tax. They kept the tangible or personal tax the same at 34 cents per $100.
The Soil Conservation District only taxes real estate and not personal property. They kept their tax rate the same at 90 cents per $100. The assessed amount of money that will be collected for this tax is approximately $107,000. The Perry County Board of Health raised taxes to 35 cents from 31 cents per $100.
The city of Buckhorn kept their tax rate the same at 25 cents per $100. The city of Vicco did not have a known tax rate that was turned in for review by the fiscal court.
Although the meeting included three hours of discussion on various topics, one of the first questions brought up was the purchase of a new Ford F-150 Raptor as Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble’s new county vehicle.
The discussion was started when a woman in the audience, who didn’t identify herself, said that many people that work private sector jobs cannot afford nice vehicles, yet he is being paid by these same people through taxes and has a nice vehicle.
“A lot of people are saying if things don’t change in November they are going to have to shut their doors,” she said. “Yet you keep creating positions and private sector keeps losing them. There is no way you can justify a $60,000 truck for a work truck.”
Noble corrected her by noting that the truck did not cost $60,000. In the previous fiscal court meeting Noble said that the county actually paid $50,000 for the truck.
“Whatever it was its too much,” the woman continued. “Work trucks are stripped down trucks. They don’t even have to have a radio in them.”
Joey Stidham, of Stidham Reconstructions and Investigations, stood up and said that he disagrees with the judge’s choice in trucks, but agrees that the judge needs a good vehicle since he has the responsibility of making the county look lucrative.
“This man hauls around the very people you are asking to bring jobs to the area,” said Stidham. “If the governor lands in the airport he is the one that picks him up.”
Several more in the audience also questioned the choice of the truck. After several minutes, Noble banged a gavel and ended the discussion before moving on to other business.
The meeting continued with the fiscal court voting to buy new cruisers for the Perry County Police Department. “They (the police officers) are driving junk right now,” said Noble. “They are driving vehicles with 400,000 miles on them.”
The county police force’s current cruisers were purchased by the fiscal court just over a year ago, with one of them being donated by another law enforcement agency. The new cruisers will be 2013 Ford police utility vehicles.
Noble said they plan to use coal severance which had been allocated for the department. “If we buy the two vehicles they have got $50,000 this year and $50,000 next year,” said Noble. “We can pay for them and then reimburse ourselves out of the next $50,000 next year.”
The new cruisers cost just over $31,000 each.
The fiscal court approved a resolution to continue sewer lines from Darfork to the new construction site for the East Perry Elementary. This will give the new school access to sewage service.
Two new members were also voted onto the Perry County Library board of directors: Julia Gilley and Cecelia Stewart. Sydney Hancock Francis had been appointed to the board but had not been reached for approval at the time of the meeting. If she accepts she will be voted on at a later meeting.
Veteran Michael Turner came before the board to present three projects. Over the last few years he has done much of the work in getting bridges dedicated in the name of Perry County veterans. This time he brought projects for Von Duff and Cameron Hoskins before the court.
Duff had served in the military as well as being a long time principal at Chavies Elementary. Turner proposed naming a bridge after him.
Hoskins is the first non-veteran that Turner has proposed naming a bridge after. Hoskins was a student at Chavies Elementary when he was tragically killed in an accident in 2009. Turner purposed ceremonially naming both the street that the elementary is on and the bridge closest to where he is buried after Hoskins.
The court voted to approve all of these projects.
The Perry County Ambulance Authority opened bids for a new ambulance during the fiscal court meeting, however, Matthew Couch, director of the authority, said that he would like time to review the bids before asking the court to vote. County Attorney John Carl Shackleford agreed, and the court will call a special called meeting to vote on the bid.
The fiscal court also voted to continue the contract with Boyd Feltner Construction for concrete work in the county after his bid came in lower then the others.