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HomeLocal NewsLocal GovernmentOlive Hill moves forward with new tax ordinance

Olive Hill moves forward with new tax ordinance

City council hears SRO feedback from West Carter staff

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

Olive Hill City Council entered into the first reading of a new city occupational tax ordinance in their regular meeting last week. That ordinance would set a two percent tax on, “all employees, whether or not residents of the City of Olive Hill, for the privilege of engaging in occupations… businesses or other undertakings for compensation within the city.” The new tax would be, “equal to 2% of the taxable gross salaries, wages, commissions, and other compensations earned by employees for work done or services performed within the city.” 

Failure to comply comes with, “the removal of the employer’s business license,” to operate within city limits. In addition, any “license fees imposed by (the) ordinance which remain unpaid… shall bear an interest rate of twelve percent” per year, in addition to a five percent per month penalty, up to 25 percent. 

The taxable wages include contributions to “retirement, profit sharing, or a deferred compensation plan which are deferred for federal income tax purposes,” and, “amounts contributed by an employee to any welfare benefit, fringe benefit, or other benefit plan… or other payment method which permits employees to elect to reduce federal tax for compensation,” under IRS code. 

A PDF copy of the full ordinance can be found online here

In other action the council moved to approve a request for disbursement to Trane on the energy savings project. Council questioned the Trane representative about the slow progress on the water project. He explained it was related mostly to supply chain issues that are making it difficult to get materials. Some of the items, he said, were ordered last fall, but still haven’t been delivered. For example, he said, some valves ordered last fall were supposed to arrive in April, and they were still awaiting delivery. 

Despite that, some of the clarifier equipment has been put in, he said, including the tank. While waiting for the materials to finish that part of the project, he said, their crews were, “doing what they can with the underground piping they have.”

He assured council the workers were not sitting idle. When councilman Chris Bledsoe asked about what they were doing while waiting for their supplies, he said they were getting ahead on other work, to help mitigate the impact of the material shortage. 

City Clerk Chimila Hargett said though she knew council was “not happy” with the slow progress and other issues, the city was contractually obligated to pay the disbursement. 

Councilman Justin Dixon made the motion to make payments 12 and 13, seconded by Bledsoe. Council moved to approve the payment with councilman Eric Rayburn the lone “no” vote on the motion. 

Mayor Jerry Callihan lamented that Olive Hill, “got the worse half,” in the Harshaw-Trane split.

In public comments Olive Hill Trail Town requested help with putting up posts for a gate that was donated by Globe Farm Store. That gate will help control access to the town lake, for recreation purposes. The Trail Town representative, Duane Robers, thanked the city for the work they had already done on the project as well as future help. 

In other comments, West Carter High School principal Kristen Bledsoe asked the city to continue their current school resource officer (SRO) agreement with the high school for another year, until they can figure out how the new mandates for SROs will impact the district and individual schools. 

However, the mayor told Bledsoe the city has “no desire” to continue providing the service. 

Bledsoe told the mayor and council that she, and other staff, felt the SRO has been a deterrent, and that in an emergency they’d rather have an officer who knew the school and the children than someone from the state police who might not have that knowledge. She added while she understood there were budgetary concerns, she felt the children were worth the investment. 

“We have to do whatever it takes to ensure their safety,” she told the mayor. 

But Callihan said the city had already made the decision and removed the funding from their budget. 

The school district previously covered the costs of the SRO from the city police department for nine months of the year, with the city covering the salary during the summer months, including benefits. The officer was assigned to general policing duties during those summer months. 

Callihan dismissed those concerns, noting the school would still be protected by a school resource officer even if they weren’t from the city police force. He also said the city police force would respond in any emergency, even if they weren’t providing the district with an SRO. 

He further countered that the school district was capable of fully funding the position if they wished to, asking why they, “have money to build a new school, but not for (fully funding) an SRO?” 

He said he had also heard the district was already planning on creating their own police force to perform SRO duties, and had even purchased cruisers. 

While this is something districts can consider under the new mandate, Dr. Paul Green, superintendent of Carter County Schools, said it wasn’t something currently under consideration, and the district had not purchased any cruisers or other vehicles for SROs. 

Furthermore, as Green had previously explained, any funds for a new school building would come from a state pool of money earmarked specifically for the construction or improvement of facilities. Those funds couldn’t be used for the SRO salary. 

Council then heard from Brandon Hamilton, seeking a zoning variance for the creation of additional parking spaces for Trail Town Bar & Grill, and accepted department reports before adjourning. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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