Taxpayers in Fleming-Neon will be able to make their voices heard on the subject of a probable increase on city property taxes during a public meeting to be scheduled for summer.
At the Fleming-Neon City Council’s May meeting, Mayor Susie Polis said she has spoken with City Attorney Angie Hatton about the issue, and when Hatton’s schedule is clear the meeting will be held. Hatton also represents Letcher County and part of Pike County in the 94th Legislative District in the Kentucky General Assembly.
Polis’s statement came after the council held the first reading of its budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20, along with the water and sewer budgets. The subject of taxes has been contentious for several years, and the need for additional revenue has been discussed a number of times. The city has made efforts to increase the collection of delinquent taxes, but at the October 2018 council meeting, Mayor Polis announced that she intended to schedule a meeting to discuss raising taxes.
At the October 2018 meeting, the council did not have enough time to conduct two readings of a tax ordinance or schedule a public meeting, but Polis said the council would have to revisit the matter. She said the city has until September to pass an ordinance raising property taxes, and as soon as Hatton’s schedule is clear, she will announce a public meeting for citizen input.
The council approved the first reading of the city’s Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget with expenditures of $265,192.04 against projected revenue of $267,110.67.
The water and sewer budgets, which are separate, showed expenditures of $374,183 for water against revenue of $397,487 and a sewer budget with expenditures of $212,502 against revenues of $252,630.
The council voted to approve a motion by Linda Cantrell to hold a budget workshop before the second reading of the budgets at the next meeting. Polis said the council can make any changes it feels are necessary at the workshop and take a final vote at the next council meeting.
In other business, City Water Foreman Chris Banks reported that water losses have been reduced from 32 percent in March to 25 percent in April. Banks attributed the reduction to finding and repairing two leaks, one at Neon Junction and another behind a residence with a three-quarter inch pipe running wide open. Banks said the renovations to the water plant are all working well and the bugs are being ironed out of the new systems.
The council also addressed a citizen complaint from Larry Slone, a landlord who said a man who rented a trailer from him had been caught stealing water from the city meter that served the trailer. Slone said the meter has been locked, but he has a new renter and he wanted it unlocked. He also asked why he was held liable for paying for the water.
Mayor Polis told Slone the ordinance that governs the water department states that property owners and landlords are responsible for the water use of their renters, and that if a meter has been locked out for non-payment, it cannot be turned back on until the amount is paid in full.
Polis said the man in question had made partial payment and is expected to make the final payment by the end of May or he will face court action.
In response to a question from Councilman Rick Fleming, Polis said that collection of delinquent water bills is going well.