Commonwealth Journal

Local News

January 10, 2013

Not so fast: City won’t take tax

Somerset —  

By all accounts, it appeared the city was positioned to claim its piece of the occupational tax pie — but Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler, armed with new information, isn’t ready to say the city is taking that step. 
Pulaski County Judge-executive Barty Bullock, Girdler and other officials met in a marathon three-hour meeting Wednesday to discuss the issue.
County officials came out of the meeting under the impression that Somerset was ready to stake its claim on the occupational tax. 
“This won’t be anything less than $5 to $6 million out of our budget,” said Pulaski County Treasurer Joan Isaacs. “We’re very worried that services ... might suffer.”
But Girdler late Thursday evening said that step isn’t in the cards just yet.
“When you bring up these issues, you have to research what’s going on,” said Girdler, who spent most of the day Thursday out of town in meetings concerning the issue. 
An apparent shortfall in the Somerset-Pulaski County EMS budget — resulting from changes in reimbursement from Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance — spurred Girdler’s decision to raise the possibility of the city taking its own tax. 
Isaacs said she and Bullock agree that something needs to be done about the EMS situation. Girdler said the city, established as an overseer of EMS through a 1995 agreement, lost $970,000 for EMS for the last fiscal year. 
Girdler said the city’s first priority will be to sit down with county officials and figure out how to make up those shortfalls.“That is the most important part of this,” Girdler said. “ ... We are definitely going to look to the county to pay us the money.”
Bullock said he’d “be glad” to sit down and try to work something out over EMS. He also said he’s hopeful they’ll be able to find a solution to that problem that doesn’t involve the city claiming it’s part of the occupational tax revenue.

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