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Vote nears on $3 million to reduce taxes

Harrison County Council members are expected to vote Monday night on the $3 million usually given annually from riverboat revenue to each of the three public school districts.
The payments are expected to be applied to debt reduction for capital improvements at each of the schools, to reduce the amount needed from property tax payers.
Usually, the $3 million has been divided according to the assessed value of properties in those three district, with South Harrison Community School Corp. ‘ where the majority of business and industry is located ‘ getting the lion’s share. The savings usually applies to every property tax payer, residential and otherwise.
That would change, if Councilman Alvin Brown’s suggestion at the June 26 council meeting is adopted. ‘It should apply to residential property only,’ he said, adding that the money should be divided among school districts according to student enrollment, not by assessed valuations.
Council chair Gary Davis said Monday he wouldn’t support the adoption of either of those suggestions. ‘I’m comfortable with the way we’re doing it, and if we make any significant changes, I’m not going to be happy with it,’ he said.
He said while it’s true businesses and industry get the largest tax breaks, that’s because they pay the largest property tax bills. ‘Big companies pay taxes through the nose …, ‘ he said.
And in today’s economic climate, such tax incentives can be important in attracting or retaining jobs, he said.
Basing the distribution of money on property assessments in each school district is proper, Davis said, because tax bills are figured according to the value of property owned by the taxpayer.
The council could grant a county homestead credit in addition to the homestead credit now allowed by the state (the homestead credit applies only to that part of the tax bill for residences), according to Auditor Pat Wolfe. But that wouldn’t apply to every property owner because all of them haven’t applied for the state homestead credit.
The council also began preparation for budget hearings, set to begin in late summer. Davis appointed a salary committee of three ‘ himself, Rhonda Rhoads and Chris Timberlake ‘ to begin working on salary recommendations for the full council.
‘That’s a good idea,’ said Brown, who has served on the committee in the past and thinks it is the most efficient way to handle the job.
‘It’s a terrible idea,’ said Councilman Carl (Buck) Mathes, who believes each of the council members should take part in the full process.
Davis said the council tried that last year, but it took too much time. The council can still debate the issue when budgets are set, he said. The committee just makes a recommendation.
The council has several other decisions to make Monday night as well. Those include:
‘ Whether to allocate $110,000 in riverboat revenue to the 12 townships in Harrison County. The appropriation would be made according to population. The request was made by Franklin Township Trustee Bill Lyskowinsky, chair of the trustees’ group. The issue will come up for a vote at the July 10 meeting, Davis told him.
‘ Whether to allow a tax abatement on real estate to transfer from the bankrupt Roman Industries in north Corydon to a Cincinnati-based Roman Marbeling Co. which has acquired Roman Industries on Quarry Road. Frank Triantos explained that Roman Marbeling will supply the parent company with inventory that had been formerly outsourced. Through the acquisition and retraining of employees, some 20 to 25 jobs have been saved in the community, Triantos said. The company didn’t expand in Cincinnati because, he said, Harrison County workers have an excellent work ethic, are qualified and conscientious. ‘There’s no lack of them here,’ he said.
‘ Whether to approve a budget for the rest of the year of $88,500 for the newly-organized Regional Sewer District. The proposal includes $20,000 for site selection and preliminary engineering for a wastewater treatment facility to serve Lanesville Interstate 64 interchange; $5,000 to coordinate sewer service to the new Harrison County Hospital; $20,000 for expenses involved in board meetings; $10,000 for public outreach; $10,000 to finalize a draft of a stormwater ordinance; $10,000 to prepare stormwater components of the final district plan; $5,000 for legal fees; $7,500 for rate consultants and $1,000 in errors and omissions insurance premiums.