County Commission Discusses Budget, $55 Wheel Tax, Sheriff Dept-911 Raises, Courthouse Elevator, Airport and Solid Waste

A drawing of the Henderson County Courthouse showing how the building would look with the new addition of an ADA compliant elevator.
Photo Submitted / The Lexington Progress

Article by W. Clay Crook-

The Henderson County Commission met on Tuesday evening, October 13, 2020 in a special work session to consider several budget items, including the feasibility of a wheel tax and the addition of an ADA compliant elevator to the courthouse. Besides the shortfall of revenue, the salaries within the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department are in need of equalization. Also pending in the near future is the contract for the airport and loss of revenue in the solid waste department and the need for new equipment at the solid waste centers.

“We had a meeting a few weeks ago and a work session was requested, so we are here tonight to listen to Finance Director Lee Wilkinson,” said Henderson County Mayor Eddie Bray.

Wilkinson referred to a handout given to the commissioners on what would be needed for a law enforcement salary equalization, at 5% and 8%, and a handout from a prior meeting that analyzed what would be needed to adjust the revenue flow to an adequate level.

On the pay increase discussion, Wilkinson reviewed the last three fiscal years instead of the base payroll, as that would not include overtime and other adjustments. A wheel tax of about $14.00 would be needed to give 8% salary adjustments for the Sheriff’s Department and 911 employees.

The main variable in the current budget is the state inmate population on the revenue side, about $1.5 million, as many years ago the budget was balanced by using revenue from state inmates, and to keep certification at the jail, overcrowding needed to be addressed by reducing the number of state prisoners.

There are currently 90 state prisoners. The target of 25 state inmates is to keep the overcrowding issue at bay, and avoid expanding the jail. The wheel tax needed to make up for the lost revenue from the reduction of state inmates, based on minimum figure of 25 state inmates, is $41.00. A $55.00 wheel tax, according to the presentation would cover the lost revenue and an 8% salary increase.

The cost of renewing the average license plate would be a total of $124.00. Registration is $26.50, plus a $2.50 issuance fee, plus the current wheel tax of $40.00 makes current renewal at 69.00. An additional wheel tax of $55.00 would bring the amount to $124.00.

A question was raised over concerns of increased salaries, as there was not a 3% cost of living for county employees, although the state…

For the complete story, see the October 21st edition of The Lexington Progress.

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