Whitesburg KY

Jenkins council hears profit tax plan, listens to 3 who would like to reopen restaurant

Mayor Todd Depriest asked the Jenkins City Council to consider passing a net profits tax for businesses in Jenkins.

The council took no action on the request at its meeting Monday night, and Depriest said he wasn’t not asking for any immediately. But he would like for them to think about it in order to raise the level of city services.

A net profit tax is a percentage tax on the money left after a business pays all other taxes and expenses. When the city passed the occupational tax in 2012, the original ordinance included a net profit tax, but it was removed. City Manager Benny McCall said that other cities in the region that have occupational taxes all have net profit taxes as well.

Several council members expressed a willingness to at least think about the matter, although Rick Damron and Garnett Bentley both expressed doubts. Bentley said the biggest problem with raising taxes in Jenkins was the high tax rate levied by Jenkins Independent Schools. The Jenkins School Board set the tax rate for this year at 85.2 cents per $100 real and personal property and 69 cents per $100 for motor vehicles and aircraft. The rate last year was 84.7 cents last year for real and 87.1 cents for personal property. The motor vehicle rate is unchanged.

Depriest said he does not want to increase property tax rates but the city is gradually losing ground due to the lack of financial resources. The city tax rate is 34.99 cents per $100 for real property and for watercraft and motor vehicles. He said that ideally, an influx of business and workers would increase the city’s revenues, but the city needs to improve services to compete successfully for business. He added that with a net profit tax, the city could offer a lower rate to attract new businesses. Depriest asked the council to consider it and said he will ask McCall to bring information on the net profit rates charged by other cities in the region to the next meeting.

In other business, the council heard a report on the health impact assessment that was conducted on Elkhorn Lake. The study was paid for by the Pew Charitable Trust and conducted through the Kentucky River Area Development District. The study was conducted by Dr. Dave Matthews and Donna Hardin. Matthews said the Pew Charitable Trust and KRADD reviewed a number of projects and settled on the Elkhorn Lake Project.

Matthews said the first question in the study concerned the safety of the dam, and that while the possibility of a mishap is still slight, the dam sits on a geographical fault and there have been over 800 earthquakes in Kentucky since 1900. He said the dam is solid and very well constructed, but the city needs an Emergency Plan in the event of a breach. An Emergency Plan will also help in obtaining funding for repairs to the dam and upgrades to the lake. Matthews also said the design of the dam allows for overflow, and that is a source of concern as well.

Matthews said water quality is also a major concern and that part of the problem is from siltation from strip mining that took place in the last century. However, the lily pads also have a significant negative impact on the water quality from decomposition after they die for the season. He said water quality won’t get better without some modifications.

The study also touched on improvements to the park and community development and health around the lake. The city has sought to develop a trail around the lake for years but the funding has not been available. Matthews suggested forming a Friends of Elkhorn Lake group to help keep the area around the lake clean and to generally raise awareness. He said that community health and general happiness will improve the city’s ability to attract visitors and business.

Three different applicants expressed an interest in leasing the former site of the Las Penas Mexican Restaurant, which has closed.

The first presentation was made by Javier Navarro, a former employee of Las Penas. Navarro said he has a great deal of restaurant experience and has roots in the area. He also said he would like to present a more diverse menu and should be able to open within two to three weeks. Stephanie Stratton of the Mountain Resource Management Group told the court her group sees it as part of a more tourist focused site and may have a road house theme with barbecue or steaks and nice bar.

Jessica Antonio presented Las Maracas restaurant’s proposal and said they want to have a Mexican theme but also favor a diverse menu. She said she grew up in the Jenkins area and her husband and brother-in-law have lived here over 20 years. She said her group wants to make it a center for community events and a place people want to come.

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