The Williamsburg City Council held the first reading of the ordinance setting its 2019 real and personal property tax rates during a special called meeting Monday night.
Under the terms of the ordinance, the real property rate, on which property tax rates are based, will increase three cents over 2018, from 31.2 cents per $100 of assessed value to 34.2 cents per $100 off assessed value.
“Basically, you are looking at, if you have a $75,000 home, your city taxes will go up $22.50. If you have a home valued at $100,000 it will go up about $30,” said Mayor Roddy Harrison.
Harrison explained that the city had the tax rate artificially low based on the total property value officials have been using as the basis in an attempt to generate the necessary revenue for the city.
When officials received the total property assessments for the city, it appeared to have decreased from $163 million in 2018, to $154 million.
“We panicked,” Harrison said noting officials were unable to explain the loss of so much property value.
However, after speaking with Whitley County Property Valuation Administrator Ronnie Moses, officials learned while past total property reports had included those eligible for the homestead and disability exemptions under state law, 2019 did not.
“Because we didn’t have the net last year, we were going on the total assessment,” Harrison explained.
“The rates probably should have been higher all along because we didn’t use the net, we used the total,” he said.
The council is unable to do anything concerning past rates.
“We can only move forward, so taxes are going up,” Harrison said.
Harrison said the city has actually seen a $2 million increase in property assessments.
However, the amount of Homestead exemptions is continuing to increase.
According to the Kentucky Department of Revenue, the Homestead exemption is available to homeowners who are at least 65 years of age or who have been classified as totally disabled.
The exemption is applied against the assessed value of the individual home and the property tax liability is computed based on the remaining assessment.
The application for either exemption must be made with the local PVA, annually.
The value of the homestead exemption for 2019-20 is $39,300. It is recalculated every two years.
Property taxes are due Jan. 1, 2020. Taxes paid after that, are subject to a 10-percent penalty, plus interest.
The personal property rate, which covers vehicles, went down from 43.39 cents per $100 of assessed value, to 41.36 cents.
In other business the council:
- Approved the second reading to amend the city’s smoking ordinance to include electronic cigarettes and vaping.
The revision also adds marijuana, CDB oils and other substances to the list of banned substances.
Harrison said that city officials had discussed making an exception for places that sell vaping items only, so that perspective customers could sample the various vapor juices before buying.
Williamsburg Attorney Kim Frost said there is an exception in the current ordinance for tobacco stores to allow people to sample goods provided the smoke doesn’t infiltrate other areas.
Harrison noted that such facilities wouldn’t be allowed to have anyone under the age of 18 inside.
The council approved the first reading of the ordinance at the regular meeting on September 9.
- Approved the first reading of an ordinance annexing the former Colonels Market property on U.S. 25W into the city limits. Harrison said it was requested by the property owner.
The council is scheduled to hold a special called meeting at 5 p.m. today to vote on the second reading of the tax and annexation ordinances.