Whitesburg KY

Jenkins to sell delinquent taxes

The City of Jenkins voted unanimously at its October meeting to take action that will lead to selling delinquent taxes to third-party purchasers. After some discussion about making certain there will be ways to allow delinquent taxpayers to negotiate a plan to pay their taxes, the council approved the second reading of the ordinance that was introduced in the August meeting.

After reading the ordinance, City Attorney Randall Tackett told the council that in addition to all the normal procedures to notify taxpayers that they owe the city money, the names of delinquent taxpayers will be published in the newspaper before the city takes the final step of selling their taxes. He added that City Manager Benny McCall will be tasked with administering the process, including selling the taxes, and McCall said that if delinquent taxpayers will contact him he will make every effort to allow for them to set up a payment plan to avoid having their taxes sold to a thirdparty purchaser.

Council members Rebecca Amburgey and Rick Damron both expressed concerns about the procedure, but Tackett told them that taxpayers receive ample notification that their taxes are due and added that most people know that if they own property, it will be taxed. Tackett said that by giving the city this enforcement tool, it will not only allow for better budgeting, it also prevents people who can easily afford to pay city taxes to skip out on it simply because they don’t like paying them.

City Manager McCall said he has had conversations with people who told him they will pay county taxes because the county can sell their taxes, but they don’t pay city taxes because the city is powerless to compel them to pay. That will change when the ordinance goes into effect and the city will run its own collection efforts.

Councilman Rick Damron said the city should make every effort to notify the delinquent taxpayers, but Tackett said it is ultimately the property owners’ responsibility to see that their taxes are paid and added that every citizen has ample protection under the law.

“There are constitutional protections for property owners,” said Tackett, “due process of the law.” He added that even after delinquent taxpayers’ taxes are sold, they have up to one year to redeem them.

In a related matter, the council voted unanimously to keep real and tangible property taxes at their current rate of 34.99 cents per $100 and the motor vehicle tax at its current rate of 42.19 cents per $100. Mayor Todd Depriest told the council members he knows it was a tough decision for them to pass the ordinance to sell delinquent taxes.

The council also accepted the resignation of longtime Councilman Robert Adams, who has accepted a new job that will require him to be out of town during meeting times. Mayor Depriest praised Adams’s service to the city and the council agreed that he will be badly missed. The resignation is effective on October 15 and Depriest asked the council to consider a replacement to vote on at the next meeting.

In other business, the council voted to provide long- and short-term disability insurance for city employees, providing that funding can be found. City Manager McCall said he has worked with Durand Sparkman to find the best rates and that he had been surprised at finding such an affordable plan, which he attributed to the city’s participation in the Kentucky League of Cities. The plan will cost the city $1,179.75 per month and will fill a gap in employees’ insurance by providing for long- and short-term disability payments.

The council also voted unanimously to participate with a new provider to allow for the city to pay matching funds into city employees’ 401K plans. McCall explained that the previous state plan administrator had modified its terms to include demanding that it be allowed to handle the city’s payroll and actually cut the checks for city employees. Mayor Depriest and the council found that to be unacceptable and McCall said that after some work, he found a new administrator that allows the city to handle its own finances and still contribute to the 401K plans.

The council approved McCall’s request to allow for city employees to accumulate up to 80 hours of leave time. He said that many city workers do not take all their vacation time during the work year and they shouldn’t lose it because of their dedication to their jobs.

Mayor Depriest also recognized three members of the Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department for achieving new levels of training through the Kentucky Fire Commission, which conducts training for fire departments throughout the state. Both Dakota Hall and Ed Lowery received certifi- cation for 150 hours of training and Joe Redford received a certificated attesting that he has completed 400 hours of training.

The Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department had 27 emergency runs in August, attended to one police matter, supervised one controlled burn, and responded to four vehicle accidents with injury. It also responded to two alarm malfunctions, eight EMS calls, eight public service calls, two lockouts, and one structure fire. The city’s pumper (fire truck) and all fire apparatus (breathing equipment) were tested and passed. The department will begin with inspections in October. Hydrant inspections will be coordinated with the water department.

The city produced 12,782,000 gallons of water in August and sold 5,945,000 gallons, for a potential loss of 6,837,000, or 53 percent. Of that, 5,154,000 gallons are accounted for, including 2,202,000 in line breaks, leaving the city with a 13 percent unaccounted for loss rate of 1,683,000 gallons.

In the Mayor’s Report, Mayor Depriest praised everyone associated with the Jenkins Homecoming Days Festival and said that the 2015 festival was one of the best, adding that it just keeps getting better. Councilman Chuck Anderson praised all the volunteers and city workers who worked so hard to make it a success and added that there are plans to expand and add more carnival rides next year. Benny McCall also thanked John and Gina Roberts of Goodwater Street for their work in beautifying the city by helping with the city’s planters.

Anderson announced that the Halloween Safe Night will be held Saturday evening, October 31, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Jenkins High School cafeteria.

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