Layoffs or new taxes possible in Pike County

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

Layoffs and cutbacks or new taxes are possibly on the way in Pike County.
Leaders say the Fiscal Court must find a way to handle a potential budget deficit next year. Magistrates and department heads discussed the situation Tuesday morning.

Cut spending or increase revenue are the two options. Magistrates say both will hurt people in Pike County, but they will have to make a decision these next few months.

Pike County officials say county vehicles with hundreds of thousands of miles and other old, failing equipment needs to be replaced next year, and it could add up to thousands of dollars.
"Most of this equipment is vital to essential services in the county, such as trash pick-up, road maintenance, and whatnot," said Brandon Roberts.

The costs will strain the county budget, which is already struggling from less coal severance funds and a more than three million dollar budget deficit last year.

"You're going to have either budget cuts or revenue enhancements, one or the other," said Roland Case, Assistant Pike County Attorney.

Finance directors laid out the options to save money, such as layoffs, cuts to health insurance, or decrease services like road maintenance and trash pick-up. Options to raise money are new taxes, such as an occupational tax or an insurance premium tax.

"I'm hoping in our budget we can work through the hoops without implementing any taxes on people because they are taxed to death," said Hillman Dotson, Magistrate District 5.

Magistrates also say they do not want any layoffs. Some employees told us they are now waiting to see what the future holds.

"Concerned about health insurance premiums. Many of them have families, so they have to worry about them. They worry about layoffs," said Roberts.

Officials hope in the next few months to have a clearer picture of next year's potential budget problems. They say it is possible they will not have a projected deficit.

Officials have until the new fiscal year starts on July 1st to make a decision on cutbacks or increased revenue, but Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford said he would like to have an idea of which direction to go by March 23rd.

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