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Council to leave tax rates alone; votes to lower cable TV, hike internet rates

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017 — The Bardstown City Council agreed Tuesday night to move forward with a move to leave the city’s 2017 tax rates the same as last year.
Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton said a homeowner whose property valuation hasn’t changed will see no increase in city taxes.

Mayor Dick Heaton discusses the tax rate options the council has for the 2017 tax rates.

The existing real estate tax rate of 18.2 cents per $100 and the personal property tax of $19.12 cents per $100 value will be carried over from 2016 to 2017.

Due to growth in the property valuation in the city limits — thanks in part to new construction and business expansions — leaving tax rates the same will generate $123,475 in new tax revenue. The fact the same rate generates increased revenue over last year triggers the requirement that the city hold a public hearing prior to holding its first reading on the rates.

The council’s other two tax rate options included accepting a “compensating” tax rate, which is one that generates the same revenue as last year’s tax rates, and tax rates that generate up to 4 percent in additional tax revenue.

In the case of the compensating rate, the city’s tax rates would drop — real estate would drop from 18.2 cents to 17.9 cents per $100 valuation, and the personal property tax rate would drop from 19.12 to 18.92 cents per $100 valuation.

Had the council pursued the 4 percent tax revenue increase, the rates would increase from 18.2  to 18.6 cents per $100 value on real estate, and from 19.12 to 19.66 cents per $100 value on personal property. The additional tax revenue the 4 percent increase would create is an estimated $136,495.

The council voted to hold the public hearing on the tax rate at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, just prior to the regular council meeting.

CABLE RATE INCREASE. Louisville Road resident Mary Ann Brown voiced her concern regarding the council’s decision to  move forward with a cable TV rate decrease that is coupled with the cable internet rate increase.

Louisville Road resident Mary Ann Brown listens as Councilman John Kelley discusses the reasoning behind the rate increase for the city’s cable TV service, and the increase in the cable internet service. Customers who subscribe to both cable TV and internet will see no increase, but those who only to the city internet service will see the increase in their monthly bill.

The coming rate changes means that customers who subscribe to both cable TV and cable internet will see no increase in their total bill. But Brown told the council she only subscribes to the cable internet service, and she objected to her internet bill being raised to help subsidize the city’s cable TV service.

Brown said the rates have increased 12 percent in the past 19 months.

Brown said she understands the need for the internet service to pay its share for the cable TV infrastructure.

“It seems totally unfair to me that I as an internet customer will subsidize someone with basic cable,” she said.

Councilman John Kelley explained that in the past, the cable TV side paid most of the infrastructure costs, and the rate changes will spread those costs. The cable TV system is slowly losing subscribers, while the cable internet continues to grow.

The council held first reading on the rate changes as proposed. The council will hold final approval on the rate changes at its next meeting Tuesday, Aug. 22.

COUNCIL TRAVEL/TRAINING POLICY. The council unanimously approved changes to the city’s rules governing reimbursements to council members who travel or attend training related to their service as council members.

Each member of the council has a $1,000 budget to cover travel and training expenses. The change means that the city will pay the costs for council members who wish to attend the annual Kentucky League of Cities fall conference.

WATER TREATMENT PLANT CHANGE ORDER. The council also approved a $6,354 change order connected with improvements at the city’s water treatment plant. The change was necessary when contractors found that discharge pipes were not as tall as indicated in the city records. In order to install protective vaults for a meter and valve, precast rings must be installed to raise the level of the vault.

NEXT UP. The council will meet at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22 for a public hearing prior to its regularly scheduled 7 p.m. council meeting.

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