Jackson Co. citizens to pay higher taxes

By: Katie Roach Email
By: Katie Roach Email

MCKEE, Ky (WYMT) - Financial problems continue to plague the Jackson County Fiscal Court.

Two weeks ago, the fiscal court voted in a new police department for the county and said the sheriff was unable to protect the citizens.

The judge executive also says the sheriff owes the fiscal court almost $300,000, and as a result of a mounting deficit in the county citizens will now be paying higher taxes.

The Jackson County Fiscal Court met for more than three hours Tuesday.

"The deficit is not something that happened in two weeks, it happened over some time. Primarily the last two years," said Jackson County Judge Executive William O. Smith.

He says their coal severance funds have dropped more than 50 percent in the past year.

Plus, he adds the sheriff's office owes the fiscal court more than $275,000.

After a meeting two weeks ago, the fiscal court is also paying for a new police department in the county.

"It creates more financial responsibility to support the police department, even though we were in effect supporting the sheriff's deputies to a large extent. And that's where a lot of the deficit came from is that we were not reimbursed for the monies that we had paid into the sheriff's office," said Smith.

Sheriff Denny Peyman says this is how it has always been.

"In the past and current, it has gone forever, and I think all small counties operate this way. The sheriff's office, who is responsible for taxes, doesn't have enough money to function year round, so during tax time we are able to pay all of our bills and pay our salaries and stuff," said Sheriff Peyman.

But, due to the mounting deficit the judge executive says they had to do something to balance the budget.

On Tuesday by a two to one vote, a .85% occupational tax increase was passed. Citizens already pay a one percent tax.

"It's gonna take more and more out of my pocket, and we just don't have it to give," said Gene Gatts who lives in Jackson County.

Several citizens were at the meeting to ask the fiscal court not to pass the tax.

The judge executive says they have also made cuts in other areas of the budget.

If you make $25,000 a year, that will be around $460 per year paid in just county taxes.

The new tax will go into effect on November 1st.

Also, county employees will no longer have sick days.

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