Commonwealth Journal

News Live

June 4, 2013

Magistrates exploring tweaking occupational tax structure


Somerset —

The additional EMS funding comes after several months of back-and-forth between the City of Somerset and the county over an issue that began in January after Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler announced that EMS had finished fiscal year 2012 in the red. City officials, citing guidelines as per a 1995 interlocal agreement, asked that the county cover $982,907 of the shortfall. 
Funding for EMS had been established through the 1995 agreement between the two entities. The county had been providing the $1.2 million yearly to EMS from occupational tax revenue. 
As “overseer” of EMS, the city provided additional funding and managed the operations of EMS. The agreement also stated that additional occupational tax funds would need to cover “unanticipated” shortfalls in the EMS budget. 
After some disagreements between the two entities that included the city’s move to drop the inter-local agreement completely, the city and county are operating again under the 1995 guidelines while they move toward an updated agreement. Pulaski County Attorney Martin Hatfield and Somerset City Attorney Carrie Wiese have both been heavily involved in the process.
Girdler had proposed a contract situation in which the county would pay the city $1.6 million yearly to provide EMS service. That number would be considered the maximum provided by the county, and city officials have stated the city would cover any additional costs after that. 
Should the ordinance amendment introduced during Monday’s fiscal court meeting be passed in its second reading unchanged, 5.5 percent of the gross occupational tax revenue will go toward the detention center, and 1.5 percent will go to the airport — down from its cut of 2 percent. Pulaski County 911’s piece of the pie remains unchanged at 13 percent. 
The occupational tax structure adjustment also affects other entities that receive funding after a percentage of gross profits are handed out to Pulaski County 911, EMS, the detention center and the airport. 
If the ordinance remains unchanged, 26 percent of that net revenue goes into the county’s general fund, 19 percent goes to the Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation (down one percent from 20 percent), 25 percent will go into the county road fund (a decrease of five percent from 30 percent), and the remaining 30 percent will be divided among the five incorporated cities — Somerset, Science Hill, Eubank, Burnside and Ferguson — according to population. 

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