While Whitley County officials weigh the option of voting in a payroll tax to help ease budget woes, leaders from the county’s two cities say they are in wait-and-see mode.
According to state laws, Corbin and Williamsburg could keep money garnered from any tax by passing their own payroll tax levies.
Corbin Mayor Amos Miller said preliminary negotiations have begun with county leaders regarding a tax, but said both sides are a long way off from any final decision.
“I’ve not had any official meetings, but I have spoken with the County Judge-Executive and I’ve spoken with some magistrates,” Miller said. “This is the beginning of negotiations, but until Whitley County puts a tax on, the City of Corbin has nothing … we aren’t looking to put a tax on until they put one on.”
“Until they have the vote and the will to put a tax on, there’s really no negotiations with anyone about anything.”
Tax revenues garnered from Corbin would be the largest of any portion of the county, making it an important ingredient in any tax deal.
In 2000, Knox County passed a payroll tax and finally started collection of that tax after a prolonged legal battle with the city of Barbourville. Barbourville officials passed their own tax before county officials passed the ordinance. Corbin chose not to pass a tax and has failed at all attempts to receive some money from the county for taxes collected in the city.
But Knox County’s population was under 30,000 when the tax was passed. Any citywide tax Corbin leaders pass would stack on top of the current Knox County tax. The situation in the Whitley County side of Corbin isn’t so imminent, Miller said.
“The good thing about Whitley County putting a tax on compared to what Knox County did is Whitley County is over 30,000. So we can wait. We aren’t going to harm our people.”
Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison said he’s had no meetings with any county officials regarding a payroll tax proposal and said he hasn’t decided if he’d be in favor of passing a tax for his city.
“There hasn’t been any kind of discussion whatsoever about it,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen or if they have the votes or what. With us, we really don’t know.”
“I haven’t researched it enough to comment on it. As far as the city council and I getting together, we haven’t even discussed it.”
Harrison said he has no meetings planned with county leaders in the future.
The Whitley County Fiscal Court met in special session last Friday to discuss options regarding an impending budget deficit of about $700,000. Officials with the Kentucky Department of Local Government say a payroll tax is one of the only viable options available to the county to maintain a balanced budget – a state requirement of counties in Kentucky.
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