“Hopefully we can work something out where that doesn’t need to happen,” Bullock said.
That route would have dire consequences for the county’s bottom line.
“We’re already at bare bones,” said Isaacs.
20 percent of the county’s general fund comes from the occupational tax, which was established in the 1980s as a way to bring additional revenue to a chronically underfunded county government. Isaacs said the county collected around $9 million during the last fiscal year, which ended in June.
If Somerset did pull rank and claim the occupational tax revenue from employers located within the city limits, that would include Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, the Somerset and Pulaski County school systems, Oakwood, the Kentucky Transportation Department, numerous retail stores, and even the county itself, which has offices located in the old courthouse in downtown Somerset.
As of right now, the county funds a number of entities through the occupational tax. Lake Cumberland Regional Airport, Somerset-Pulaski County EMS, the Pulaski County Detention Center and Pulaski County 911 all receive funding from the gross revenue of the county’s occupational tax, or “off the top.”
The airport receives around 2 percent, EMS gets 13 percent, the detention center gets about 5.5 percent, and 911 receives 13 percent.
After a percentage of gross profits are handed out, other entities are given a percentage of the net profits of the tax.
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 — per capita.
Girdler said the occupational tax issue is a complicated one, and he said “it could take up to a year to unravel it.
“We don’t want to rush into it,” Girdler said. “It’s not off the table, we’re definitely going to consider it ... we’re concerned about getting our money, but we’re concerned about EMS.”