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Jenkins council splits on tax vote

Jenkins OK’s new tax plan on narrow vote

Businesses in the City of Jenkins will have to pay a 1.5 percent net profit tax in the coming year.

In a split 3-2 vote, the Jenkins City Council voted Monday to institute the tax. Voting for the measure were Ernestine Hill, Shaun Collier, and Sammy Elswick. Voting no were Rick Damron and Garnett Bentley. Chuck Anderson abstained.

There will be exceptions to the tax, such as some non-profit organizations, banks and trust companies, or insurance companies and others that cannot be legally taxed by the city.

Prior to the vote, Mayor Todd Depriest told the council that the city’s revenue sources have diminished considerably, pointing to severe losses in coal severance tax revenue and losses in the city’s inability to assess property taxes on senior citizens. Out of $36 million in assessed property tax value, about $9 million is adjusted out in disability and homestead tax breaks, leaving the city with an actual base of $27 million.

In recent years, Jenkins has seen several promising businesses that located in the Gateway Industrial Park fail, and the high tax rates assessed by Jenkins Independent Schools make it difficult for the city to raise property taxes.

Depriest said that the city is running on a bare bones budget, with trucks and other equipment still in operation well after they should have been replaced. He added that in 2014, the city had 41 employees and now it has 26. Depriest said they have made some cuts by combining jobs and other efforts, but it has come to the point that soon, some things will not be getting done. He added that if Jenkins wishes to attract new residents or businesses, thereby expanding the tax base, it will be absolutely necessary to maintain the sanitation department and have city workers keep the town clean and keep the grass and weeds cut.

Depriest said that when the city passed the occupational tax in 2012, the original ordinance included a net profit sharing tax, but it was removed. He added that other cities in the region that have occupational taxes all have net profit sharing taxes as well. The matter of the net profit tax was first raised in October and the first reading was conducted at the December council meeting.

In other business, the council learned that a new restaurant will open by the end of the month at the site of the former Las Penas. Depriest said Javier Navarro, a former employee of Las Penas who was awarded the bid following a presentation at the October meeting, told him that the renovations are complete and a few details remain to be finalized. Depriest urged Jenkins residents to support the new establishment as well as other businesses in the city.

Depriest also announced that the city has acquired a new member of the police department, a canine officer trained in detecting drugs. The dog was purchased from Mid-Michigan K-9 Academy for $7,000, and will be subject to use by other law enforcement agencies in the county for a fee. Jenkins Police Chief Josh Richardson will be the dog handler and will attend a canine handler instruction course.

Councilman Rick Damron asked that the police report be given in greater detail and showed Depriest a police report from a nearby city. Damron also thanked city employees for their work on restrooms at the Little Shepherd Amphitheater.

The council agreed to declare a propane generator and a 2006 Dodge Charger as surplus and to take bids for them. Depriest told the council that the Thompson submachine gun the city had placed for auction has been sold to a Texas collector for $75,000.

Depriest also read a letter from Nesbitt Engineering, which handles engineering matters for the city, reporting on several engineering projects the city has underway. A utility relocation proposal has been submitted to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for the Highway 805 Bridge Replacement. The Sidewalk Project should be ready to go to bid in February or March, and efforts are still underway to find funding for the Elkhorn Dam Project. Funding is nearly complete and an environmental review is being conducted to finish the Jenkins Waterline Replacement Project. When the project is finished, every waterline in the city will have been replaced.

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