2013-06-12 / Front Page

City of Neon may turn late tax bills over to collectors

By WILLIAM FARLEY

Fleming-Neon citizens who are delinquent in paying their city taxes may soon see their delinquent taxes sold to third parties who will double or even triple the amount owed through court costs and other collection fees.

At the June meeting of the Fleming Neon City Council, Mayor Susie Polis said the city will look into selling delinquent taxes to third party collectors.

“I want the public to know we are looking at turning delinquent taxes over to a company to help us collect them,” said Polis, adding that she meant selling the delinquent taxes to third party collectors.

At a recent meeting of the Letcher County Fiscal Court, County Court Clerk Winston Meade warned county taxpayers who are delinquent not to allow their taxes to be sold to third party collectors and urged them to make arrangements to pay them. Meade stressed the lack of compassion the third party collectors have for the holders of the delinquent taxes they purchase.

The announcement by Polis came after the council passed the first reading of the city’s 2013-14 budget. At a recent budget work session, City Clerk Janice Banks told the council that part of the reason would be low for the coming year was unpaid taxes. Others complained that some people in the city just ignore tax bills when they are sent out.

The council voted to pass the first reading of the city’s budget of $246,003. The budget features projected revenues of $206,002.54 and a carryover from the current year of $40,000.00. Expenses for the coming year are projected at $245,587.91. The Local Government Economic Assistance budget has revenues of $43,000.00 and a $1,000.00 carryover for a total of $44,000.00. The council also voted to pass the first reading of the Water Department budget for 2013-14, which calls for revenues of $325,224.00 against expenditures of $325,040.00.

The council also voted to begin the process of applying for a Community Development Block Grant to serve as the cornerstone of a more extensive funding package to renovate and expand the city’s water and sewer system. Jennifer McIntosh, Community Resources Planner for the Kentucky River Area Development District, told the council the grant will require a 50 percent match from the city and said KRADD is currently looking for grant funds to make the match. McIntosh added that in order to qualify for the grant, the city will need to conduct an income survey. She said the survey will cover the entire district and take a random sampling of about 300 households. She added that the survey will not ask for specific family incomes but ask for a range between two figures such as “between $50,000 and $75,000 a year.”

Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering, a Lexington engineering company working with the city on the renovation project, told the council the CDBG will be used to attract other funders such as the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority. The council also voted to allow Mayor Polis to sign a contract with Nesbitt Engineering to design the expansion plans for the two systems. Nesbitt told the council the design will be necessary for the city to qualify for a CDBG. Nesbitt told the council the entire renovation project will cost around $3 million and added that the need s great.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Chris Banks told the council everything is running well in water and sewer matters. Councilman Robert Champion asked about the possibility of installing radioread water meters in the coming upgrades and Paul Nesbitt said that when new water lines are installed it will be necessary to replace old water meters anyway, adding that as water meters age they run slower and do not record water usage accurately, costing the city revenue.

Police Chief Mike Dingus reported that criminal activity is up as the weather has gotten warmer. Dingus told the council that arrests are up and cited drugs and theft as the primary reasons. He said a recent incidence of church burglaries was solved after officers received a tip from a citizen who had spotted suspicious activity around one of the churches. Dingus said an arrest was made that solved burglaries at two local churches as the result of the tip. He also said there have been incidents of theft of copper and scrap metal and added that he has been working with the Division of ATF and Parole and Probation.

Dingus said the issue of stray dogs in the city is also creating a lot of problems and said he has called the county dog warden to pick up strays and unleashed dogs. He said city officers will cite the owners of unleashed dogs and added that the city’s dog ordinance calls for fines of up to $500.00 per incident. Dingus said he is also currently conducting site visits of businesses that have not purchased their business license.

Councilman Tom Haynes asked about the possibility of extending sidewalks in Fleming, but Mayor Polis said that the city doesn’t have the funds to do that right now. City Clerk Banks said that some funding for sidewalks may be in next year’s budget.

Councilman James D. Collins, a member of the city’s Blighted and Deteriorated Property Committee, told the council that several properties in the city are in bad shape and need to be demolished. Collins said that some properties that were recently demolished have not been paid for and asked bout filing a lien on them. Mayor Polis said she will talk to City Attorney Jimmy Craft about the matter. She said the city has to address the issue of blighted and deteriorated property, but they have to be compensated for tearing the properties down and hauling the debris away. Collins suggested condemning the property before they tear the structures down and Polis said that has been done in the past.

Polis also said she plans to ask Craft about possible action on the old building across from Carty Funeral Home, which once housed the Dollar Store. She said the city has taken care of nine properties in the last three or four years.

Collins asked about plans for the July 4 celebration and Robert Champion moved that the city make its regular $500 contribution. Council member Linda Cantrell said the council should check to see how much the Fleming Neon Volunteer Fire Department and the American Legion plan to contribute, but Polis said the others are a waiting to see what the city plans to do.

The council voted unanimously in favor of Champion’s motion.

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