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City council turns away request to reconsider occupational tax rate hike

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, 2 a.m. — The majority of the Bardstown City Council has spoken — there will be no increase in the city’s occupational tax this calendar year.

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Bardstown Mayor John Royalty presents Kyle Snow with a certificate in recognition of completion of his Eage Scout project to replace fencing around the city’s Pioneer Cemetery.

At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Councilman Fred Hagan asked members of the council if they would reconsider approving an increase in the city’s occupational tax.

Earlier in the meeting, the council gave unanimous final approval of removing the $100,000 cap from the occupational tax. Hagan told the council he supported raising the occupational tax from one-half (0.5) of a cent to six-tenths (0.6) of a cent as a way of increasing revenues for the next fiscal year.

The occupational tax funds the city’s general fund, which pays for services that do not generate revenue, like street repairs, police and fire protection. The city’s move to a full-time fire department and hiring seven new full-time firefighters required increasing the transfer of funds from utility profits to cover the general fund’s increased expenses.

Hagan explained that his suggested tax hike was a way to avoid letting the general fund’s reserves drop by too great an amount; doing so could trigger the need for a larger tax hike next year.

Because the 2015-16 budget depends on reserves to fund its expenses, Hagan said the reserves will end the fiscal year several hundred thousand dollars lower than normal.

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Britt K. Chavanne, a board member of Next Gen Nelson County, speaks to the Bardstown City Council in regard to the board’s request to recognize the Bardstown Craft Beer Festival as a civic event. The festival is set for Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015 .

“I just think it would irresponsible to let the fund drop to that amount,” he said. “I think 0.6 percent is a fair compromise. If we’re going to do this we need to do it by the end of October.”

But after voting to remove the occupational tax cap, only Councilman Bill Buckman said he was willing to entertain a vote to raise tax rate.

Councilman Francis Lydian said he preferred to just remove the cap from the tax and see how much revenue that generates.

“We have many families struggling, Fred,” Lydian explained. “Those few dollars mean a lot to a family that’s struggling. We just need to evaluate what the cap will bring in.”

Councilmen Bobby Simpson, Roland Williams and Councilwoman Kecia Copeland agreed with Lydian.

Simpson said that the council may need to look at a new tax rate next year to cover the additional street repairs.

CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL REQUEST. The council approved a request to recognize the Bardstown Craft Beer Festival on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, as a civic event. The council also agreed to a request from festival organizer Next Gen Nelson County to close East Flaget Avenue between North Second and North Third streets on the day of the festival.

Next Gen Nelson County board members Nicholas Heaton and Britt K. Chavanne were on hand to make the request.

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Councilmembers Fred Hagan, Francis Lydian and Kecia Copeland listen to a presentation during Tuesday’s Bardstown City Council meeting.

EAGLE PROJECT RECOGNITION. Mayor John Royalty presented Boy Scout Kyle Snow with a certificate that recognized him for completion of his Eagle Scout project, which was to reconstruct the fence around the Pioneer Cemetery.

Snow expressed his appreciation for the help of his fellow scouts in Troop 721 who helped complete the project.

In other business, the council:

— approved the use of the Bardstown City Hall for the White Castle Crave Mobile, 6-10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, during the time the third-annual Zombie Walk takes place.

Registration for the Zombie Walk begins at 6 p.m. at the Bardstown High School parking lot. The walk will begin at about 8 p.m.  The festival proceeds will benefit Pawsville, an animal rescue based in Bloomfield.

— gave final approval to two rezoning requests. The first, from Tim Hutchins, owner of H & H Enterprises, sought to rezone 3.445 acres from R-3 Multi-family residential to R-1T, single family residential, and rezone 1.099 acres from B-3 regional retail business to R-1T townhouse residential.

The council also approved a request from Robert E. Cecil, operating as C and J Rentals LLC, to designate .706 acres on Flamingo Road as B-3 PUD for use serving alcohol by the drink and a dance/pool hall.

— approved a bid of $93.70 per hour for tree trimming services by Asplundh Tree Expert Co.;

— gave final approval to a series of amended zoning regulations.

NEXT UP: The council will not hold a working session on Tuesday, Oct. 6. It will meet next at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015.

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