Knott County Judge Executive Randy Thompson said he was surprised the proposed occupational tax did not pass this time. Some residents are concerned about what will happen now.
There was uproar from residents who attended the meeting after a one percent proposed occupational tax was rejected by a 3 to 2 vote.
Magistrates Calvin Waddles, Barry Watts and Jamie Mosley opposed the tax, while Magistrate Mark Chaffins and Thompson approved. Thompson said the only reason it was even brought up is because he was expecting approval.
“One of the magistrates either changed his mind or lied, I don't know which one,” said Thompson. He said that he is not a fan of taxes, but will only approve one if it is absolutely necessary.
“I would like to have a new car,” said Magistrate Calvin Waddles, commenting on what some people would like to have in reference to the treatment seniors were getting.
“It’s not about cars it is about food for our seniors and you are gonna get old one of these days too!” said one community resident in response to Waddles’ comment.
Waddles defended his disapproval after reading an article in the Lexington Herald that said coal severance money was going to decrease over the next three years. He said current budget influenced his vote.
“We have got five, six hundred thousand dollars of delinquent bills right now,” Waddles said in response to a comment made by another resident.
Thompson said the tax would have kept the Knott County Senior Citizens Center open and delivering meals to 130 people.
“Am I supposed to bring you the list of those people so and let you all pick the 26 people that are going to live with home cooked meals?” said Director Eva Huff of the center.
She said her eight employees, who would soon be out of a job by the end of the month are often the only people some of the residents see. She said many elderly people will go hungry without the ability to get a meal delivered to them.
Huff displayed around 500 plates to the magistrates and judge which symbolized what could happen if the tax was not approved. The plates were signed by the senior citizens and other community residents who were concerned about the outcome of the proposed tax.
“We are in a real financial crisis right now we have had to lay people off because we have bills we can't pay,” said Thompson.
Coal severance money has dwindled and Thompson said the senior center was not the only thing affected by the vote. He said that people had been laid off for road construction that the county desperately needs.
“We need to bring the personnel back to work who were laid off last week and we need to hire additional people to properly maintain our roads,” said Thompson.
“Now we are not going to be able to do that… Had that occupational tax gone through one third of that tax would have gone to specifically to the road department to do that very thing.”
Thompson said he is still hopeful about the senior center...
“Maybe we can utilize some of our people to assist in running the program in the smaller scale the extremely smaller scale so we can keep the program so that if another source of revenue comes or funds come back we are able to maintain the program, because nobody can take care of our people like we can,” said Thompson.
Only people who were for the tax would speak about the issue on-camera. Others who were against the tax have expressed this concern to WYMT in the past