The City of Jenkins will advertise a list of delinquent taxpayers soon and will then offer their tax bills for sale to third party purchasers on June 28.
Jenkins Mayor Todd Depriest announced the plan to sell the back taxes at the June meeting of the Jenkins City Council on Monday, and urged citizens who owe them to make arrangements to set up a repayment plan before June 28. Depriest encouraged taxpayers to visit City Hall and meet with city officials to set up a payment plan. The list of delinquent taxpayers will be published in a coming edition of The Mountain Eagle.
The issue of delinquent taxes has been a long running problem for Jenkins and other cities in Letcher County, and after many attempts to get people to take care of them, the city set a date for the sale of back taxes. This could cause serious problems for any property owner whose taxes are sold, because the legal fees and court costs of the third property purchaser can be added to the base amount of taxes and interest charges will probably be applied in full.
In other business, Depriest said the Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department has received a $148,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “Assistance to Firefighters Grant” to purchase new self-contained breathing apparatus (including new air tanks) for firefighters. Depriest told the council it costs about $10,000 to outfit each firefighter in order to keep them as safe as possible and the new apparatus will be state of the art, including displays in the helmets to let firefighters know the status of their air tanks. The city also received a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant for the purchase of a new police cruiser as well, and it is being outfitted at a dealer in Lexington. In a related matter, Depriest reported that Fire Chief Matthew Corbett has obtained his EMT Certification and Steven O’Brian, Dustin Laughary and Tyler Laughary have obtained their Kentucky Volunteer Firefighter Level Certification.
The council also voted to approve the second reading of the city budget for fiscal year 2017-18. The balanced budget is for $2,035,712 and Mayor Depriest said it would be very tight. General Fund revenue and expenses are projected at $860,175. Local Government Economic Assistance (state) Fund revenue and expenses are projected at $67,830. Road Fund revenue and expenses total $57,647, Water Fund revenue and expenses, $510,020, Sewer Fund revenue and expenses, $320,020, and Solid Waste revenue and expenses, $220,020, for a balanced total of $2,035,712.
In other business, the council learned that the city has closed out business on the Fleming-Neon Interconnect water line and there are no other Abandoned Mines Landfunded projects underway. Depriest did say that the city sidewalk project is still waiting for approval from the Kentucky Department of Highways. The project will extend and repair the sidewalk from Lakeside Drive to the road across from Jenkins Middle High School. Depriest said he hopes the work can be completed before the Jenkins Homecoming Festival in late August.
The council also voted unanimously to borrow money from a local bank to pay the city’s annual insurance costs. Depriest said the council would continue to purchase the city’s liability and employee health insurance through the Kentucky League of Cities, but said the city can realize a substantial interest rate savings by taking the loan locally rather than going through the League of Cities. This is an ongoing practice for the city and Depriest said it has saved a substantial amount of money. He added that the price on liability insurance is down by about seven percent, but the cost of employee health insurance is up about five percent.
Depriest also told the council the city is seeking grant funding to participate in a survey with Retail Strategies LLC of Birmingham, Alabama. Depriest said the company performs an analysis of the business and retail potential of a city, inducing restaurants, and determines which companies might be inclined to locate their business in the area. He said the service incudes an academy in Birmingham to help city leaders work with businesses that might be inclined to locate in their town.
The council also learned that:
• The Jenkins Police Department responded to 95 complaints in May and made five arrests, including two for drug related incidences. Six citations were issued as well as 22 verbal warnings. Two summonses were served and one firearm was seized along within a small amount of methamphetamine. The department also participated in the annual Border to Border road check on U.S. 23 at the Virginia/Kentucky state line and in the annual Click or Ticket Highway Safety Campaign. The department assisted Jenkins High School with the Junior/Senior Prom at Jenkins Apartments and with bag checks for the senior trip, using a K-9 Unit from Pike County Jail.
• The Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department responded to 28 calls in May, including six public assists, six vehicle accidents, five emergency medical service calls, one structure fire and one brush fire. The fire department also responded to three incidences of downed power lines, one alarm, and five weather related incidences.
• The city produced 11,495,000 gallons of treated water in May and sold 8,831,000 gallons, for a difference of 2,664,000 gallons or a 23 percent potential loss. Of that amount, the fire department used 25,000 gallons, leaving 2,639,000 gallons unaccounted for, a loss of 23 percent.