Commonwealth Journal

News Live

January 8, 2013

Somerset looking to take occupational tax, a move that would deplete county coffers

(Continued)

Somerset —

20 percent of that revenue goes into the county’s general fund, 20 percent goes to the Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation, 30 percent goes into the county road fund, and the remaining 30 percent is divided among the five incorporated cities — Somerset, Science Hill, Eubank, Burnside and Ferguson — by per capita. 
A City of Somerset occupational tax would no doubt make big waves in the current occupational tax structure, but Girdler said it’s the “simplest solution” for the city. 
“It will absolutely improve the relationship of all the groups if each agency does its own occupational tax,” Girdler said. 
Girdler said he hopes the county and city could sit down after the occupational tax is restructured and hammer out new inter-local agreements that would determine who funds what.
“There’s no additional dollars involved at all,” Girdler said. “It makes it a lot simpler, a lot easier  ... this is the best way to do it.”
Girdler said the city can’t afford to write off nearly a million dollars yearly for EMS — a necessary service and one that shouldn’t be cut back, Girdler said. 
“My objective is to maintain the outstanding quality of service of EMS, no matter how we do it,” Girdler said. 
And even if questions of service cuts come up, Girdler said he doesn’t have the authority — nor does he want it — to make a decision like that.
“I just don’t feel comfortable making that decision,” Girdler said. “That’s just not my place to do so.
“Do you not provide services to people?” Girdler asked. “I won’t make that decision.”
Girdler and county officials hope to meet today to discuss the issue. 
“It’s a huge problem, and it’s not going to get any better,” Girdler said. 
Isaacs, who worked in the county’s occupational tax department for several years under former treasurer Arlene Young before taking over as treasurer last year, emphasized that a new occupational tax structure would do significant damage to the county’s budget.

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