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Ashland payroll tax may be rising

Jun. 08, 2013 @ 12:16 AM

By DAVID E. MALLOY
The Herald-Dispatch
dmalloy@herald-dispatch.com
ASHLAND — The city’s payroll tax could be going up and property taxes going down if a proposed city budget is approved before the end of the month.
With expenses going up and revenues going down, changes were needed in the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, Mayor Chuck Charles said. Revenues from all funds are $51 million for the current year, but will be $46 million for next year, Charles said.
“We’re expecting some severe cuts, but no layoffs and no reduction in city services,” Charles said Friday. The Ashland Board of City Commissioners approved first reading of the budget Thursday night. The final reading is scheduled June 20. “There will be some belt tightening.”
The budget proposal calls for the city’s payroll tax to go back up to 2 percent from 1.5 percent. The increase will mean another $2.4 million for the city, City Commissioner Larry Brown said.
However, city property taxes could be going down by 20 percent and the city might not take the 4 percent increase allowed annually under Kentucky law, Charles said.
“We wanted to get our property taxes more in line with other cities of the second class in the state,” Charles said.
The closing of the AK Steel coke plant and reduction of the amount of water used by the Marathon refinery complex south of Catlettsburg caused water revenues to be down about $1.2 million, Charles said. “The coke plant was one of our largest water customers,” he said.
The city also is facing increased health care costs, $5 million in the past five years, Charles said.
“We have 18 positions open that haven’t been filled,” he said.

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