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Mayor proposes lower property tax rate; council hears Spalding Hall fund request

Mayor Dick Heaton conducts the swearing-in ceremony for Brandon Yates, the city’s newest member of the Bardstown Police Officer at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. Yates has completed 26 weeks of training at the LMPD police academy. He was joined by his parents, his grandmother and other family members.

 

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, 11 p.m. — Due to the growth in real estate assessments in the past year, city property owners are likely to see their tax rate drop from the 2017 rate of 18.2 cents per $100 of value.

Chief Financial Officer Tracy Hudson said the issue is that there’s been so much growth in the value of assessed property that leaving the tax rate the same will create 4.9 percent more in additional tax revenue. And according to state law, any tax rate that creates more than an additional 4 percent tax revenue is subject to a recall vote by local voters.

The compensating rate — the tax rate which generates about the same amount of tax revenue as last year — is 17.4 cents per $100 value.

Mayor Dick Heaton said he will recommend the council consider lowering the property tax rate from 18.2 to 17.9 cents per $100 value. This rate will generate approximately 3.9 percent more tax revenue over last year’s rate.

Heaton wanted to make it clear that the 3.9 percentage is the amount of additional tax revenue, not the increase in the tax rate — which in this instance, is actually decreasing.

Linda McCloskey, executive director of the Oscar Getz Museum, holds up photos of the existing sign in front of Spalding Hall during discussion of her request for council funds for new signage.

For property tax owners whose property value did not change from 2017, the change will mean a slightly lower city property tax bill.

Councilman John Kelley agreed with Heaton’s recommendation, noting that the city’s faces higher costs, and the increase will help cover those expenses while also reducing the overall tax rate.

The council discussed the tax rate, but will not hold first reading on an ordinance until the Aug. 28th council meeting or September at the earliest.

OSCAR GETZ/SPALDING HALL DONATION REQUEST. Linda McCloskey, the executive director of the Oscar Getz Museum, returned before the council with a revised request for a donation of $4,700 for signage to benefit Spalding Hall and the Oscar Getz Museum / Bardstown Historical Museum from the city council.

McCloskey explained the need for signage to help visitors find Spalding Hall, which includes the museums as well as a number of businesses and offices, including those of both the Kentucky Distilller’s Assocation and the Kentucky Bourbon Festival.

McCloskey’s revised presentation to the council explained that signs would help promote Spalding Hall in general as an iconic destination in Bardstown and as a home for other businesses.

But council reminded McCloskey that because the donations are funded by tax dollars, they cannot be used in an application that’s going to benefit for-profit businesses.

Councilman Joe Buckman noted that the discussion about signs had changed from the museums specifically to include all of Spalding Hall.

“Last time you were talking about the Oscar Getz Museum and doing these markers around town,” he said. “Now it looks like the whole thing has changed totally. I don’t think we can have those other businesses in this conversation.”

“Councilman Buckman is correct,” Councilwoman Kecia Copeland told McCloskey. The original request was about Oscar Getz and now the request is about promoting Spalding Hall, she explained.

If the request is for Spalding Hall, it isn’t proper for the council to consider it because it includes private businesses, she explained. If the request is only regarding signage for Oscar Getz, then that would be an appropriate avenue for a council donation, Copeland said.

Councilman Roland “Coach Roe” Williams completes some paperwork at the conclusion of Tuesday’s city council meeting.”(The request) has to be one or the other, it can’t be both,” Copeland said.

Councilman John Kelley said he believed the council could consider a donation for Oscar Getz signage, but not for something that would benefit all of Spalding Hall.

City Attorney Tim Butler explained the limitations on what donation requests the council can consider. McCloskey said she would withdraw her current request and return with a donation request that will benefit only the Oscar Getz and Bardstown Historical museums.

EARLIER ALCOHOL SALES ON SUNDAYS. The council discussed amendments to its alcohol control ordinance that will allow the local ordinance to mirror state law. The council also discussed a request by the Bourbon Alliance to move the time for Sunday alcohol sales from 1 p.m. to 10 a.m.

The move is prompted by Bardstown’s role as a major stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and the move will allow the city to have similar alcohol sales times with other cities along the trail, Heaton explained. The move would also work well with businesses that wanted to offer brunches tied in with bourbon along the trail.

None of the council opposed the proposed change, and Butler said he will work to have an ordinance ready for first reading at the next meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 28.

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