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Thursday, September 28, 2023
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Hargett clarifies tax issue

Provides more information on insurance rates and budget

By Jeremy D. Wells

Carter County Times

Olive Hill City Clerk Chimila Hargett said her office has been getting a lot of calls about the new occupational tax ordinance. Many people have the idea this is a new tax, adding an additional two percent on top of the existing occupational tax. This is not the case, Hargett explained. 

If passed the new ordinance would replace the existing occupational tax, which is 1.5 percent, with the two percent tax – an effective increase of just one half of a percent, she explained. 

“This isn’t a new tax,” Hargett told the Times in a phone call last week. “The city already has a 1.5 percent occupational tax.” 

The confusion arose, she said, around the fact that a new ordinance is required to approve the total amount, not just the amount of an increase. If passed the current ordinance would replace the existing ordinance which calls for a rate of 1.5 percent. 

Hargett also wished to clarify issues related to the employee insurance plan, and correct reports about the employee costs for the lowest tier of the plan. 

In our reporting, based on discussion between city council members, we reported that the lowest tier option would increase out of pocket costs for employees by “around $1,000 even if they never use their insurance.” 

Though the lowest tier plan could have increased out of pocket costs for individuals by up to $1,000 and for those on the family plan by up to $2,000, those costs would only apply if the employee or their family had to utilize their insurance.

“I recommended option three, which would have increased deductibles by $1,500 for single and $3,000 for family and OOP (out of pocket) maximums by $1,000 for single and $2,000 for family, but reduced coinsurance to zero percent,” Hargett said. “Council voted to choose option two, which increased deductibles by $500 and $1,000 respectively (for individual or family plans) and OOP maximums by $500 and $1,000 respectively, and keeps coinsurance at 20 percent.” 

In any case, there are never any costs to employees who don’t use their plans, Hargett explained, as the city covers the full cost of both individual and family plans for all city employees, including city council members.

“The city pays for all insurance for employees, up to and including the family plan,” she said.  

Hargett also clarified that council did not vote on the plan to remove the school resource officer costs. Though media coverage of the meeting never stated it was council’s decision – only that it was removed from the budget they were presented – Hargett said there was perception from some in the community that council made the decision. 

“The budget I presented removed the revenue and expenses for the SRO position, which is a wash to the bottom line,” Hargett said. 

She further clarified that, “the half million increase in budget revenue and expenses (mentioned in the news article) does not clarify that (this) is the Utility Fund Budget.”

It would be easy for some to get the impression it was an increase in the general budget, she said, because of the following paragraphs. 

The next regular meeting of the Olive Hill City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, July 19, at 6 p.m. at the Olive Hill Senior Citizens Center. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com



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