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City leaves tax rates alone for 2020

Winchester taxpayers won’t see their city property tax rates increase this year.

Tuesday evening, the Winchester Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to leave the rates for real property at 14.66 cents per $100 value and personal property at 14.99 cents.

In a memo to the commission, Interim Finance Director Michelle Lucas said the city will still see a revenue increase of $25,798 over the $2 million in the city’s fiscal year 2021 budget.

Lucas said the city could have set a maximum tax of 16.7 cents for real property and 15.87 for personal property. The higher rates, she said, would have generated nearly $2.3 million.

The compensating rate, which would generate the same amount of revenue as last year, was 15.8 cents, and would have required a public hearing. The rate for a 4-percent increase in revenue would be 16.7 cents.

“Due to COVID circumstances and working on a lean budget, I am not recommending the 4-percent increase as usual,” Lucas wrote.

City property taxes will be due Dec. 4. Late payments will be subject to a 10-percent penalty.

 

City moves forward with EMS agreement

The commissioners also received a copy of a proposed agreement with Breathitt-Wolfe EMS to cover non-emergency patient transfers from Clark Regional Medical Center to other facilities.

Under the terms of the agreement, Breathitt-Wolfe would be called first for those runs. Winchester Fire-EMS would still be responsible for all emergency calls within Clark County.

A committee of city and county officials has been meeting for most of the past year to discuss EMS operations. CRMC officials have said sometimes it takes an hour of making phone calls to find an ambulance to take a transfer call.

“We’ve reached the point we can’t capture every call,” Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner said. “This is the strategy the committee came up with. I don’t know what the other option is.”

The earliest the commission would vote on the agreement would be Oct. 6. The Clark County Fiscal Court must also approve the agreement, as the city and county jointly fund EMS operations in Clark County.

Commissioner Shannon Cox said he couldn’t support it because a patient could not request a Winchester ambulance for a transfer.

“I can’t agree to that,” Cox said. “I don’t pay taxes to Breathitt-Wolfe.”

Candice Tackett from CRMC said the agreement is vital; for about half of the month, she said hospital staff has to call up to 14 agencies to find someone to take a transfer call. She also said more patients are being flown by helicopter because ambulances can’t be found.

“This is something our community needs for patients to get to a higher level of care,” she said.

 

Other business

In other action, the commissioners:

— hired Courtney Harrison as a single role paramedic.

— hired Robert Harrison as a firefighter III/EMT.

— hired Jeffrey Frazier as a patient transfer specialist/EMT.

— approved a request from Steve Justice, chair of the Winchester-Clark County Heritage Committee, to place a marker near 50 N. Main St. in honor of Michael Rowady.

— approved an engineering service agreement with Palmer Engineering for work on Fulton Road.

— approved a conflict of interest waiver with Dinsmore & Shohl LLC regarding the city’s lawsuit against Stuff Recycling.

— reappointed Mike Anderson to a four-year term on the Winchester Municipal Utilities Commission.

— approved a street closure request for Rock the Block on Sept. 25.

— approved sidewalk repairs in downtown Winchester, if the price and scope of work can be reduced to $235,000. The bid was $298,400.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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