Countys Revenue Loss
Posted in the Hindman Forum
#1 Oct 25, 2011
A lesson to take home in county’s revenue loss
by CRIS RITCHIE - Editor
There’s always a problem when you put too many eggs into one basket. It appears that’s what happened in my home of Knott County, and there is certainly something here for every elected official to take home.
Just last week we found out that the fiscal court was set to issue another round of layoffs that would essentially shut the county down. Only a few services mandated by the state would still be in place, otherwise we’re on our own.
This kind of shutdown is apparently what happens when a county takes a loss in funding when coal and natural gas revenues came in lower than expected. As a result, many services that were propped up with those revenue streams fell to the wayside, leaving the county judge hoping to approve a 1 percent occupational tax to make up for the lost funding.
This seems to be a classic case of overreaching. I’ll be the first to admit that the Sportsplex is nice, the ATV training center is great and the water plant is something we should have had decades ago. But when all of these things are completed within a few years of each other (not to mention more than a million dollars wasted on a county swimming pool that’s used only a few months out of the year and was the subject of a very negative state audit a few years ago), then quite simply something has to give.
With a population of about 17,000 residents, Knott County doesn’t have a tax base that will support multiple projects that will need to be to continually paid for in monthly installments two decades down the road. It’s obvious – and very much so now – that relying on severance taxes from industries known for their ebbs and flows is unwise at best.
The coal and natural gas industries by nature aren’t always booming, so it should have been no surprise when revenues went down, and it should not have been so catastrophic to our local economy that a shutdown became an option and higher taxes a necessity. There should have been a contingency for just such an occurrence, and the county shouldn’t have been caught unaware.
Now we’re in a situation where the county is going to ask the taxpayers to pick up more of the burden, all because of a lack of foresight. Because other that the water plant, there hasn‘t been very much in the way of returns for our investments.
Ultimately, we’ll get through this, whether it be through the implementation of a new occupational tax or a state takeover and drastic increases to our property tax rate, neither of which are very attractive options. But most of all I hope this lesson that Knott County is learning the hard way is one that other counties will learn as well: live within your means.
It’s a simple concept, and one that everyone must live by, whether it’s the lowly newspaper editor or the county official elected to safeguard the hard-earned taxes that provide the very services that in Knott County, at present, are no more.
Source: http://hazard-herald.com/pages/full_story/pus... ’s+revenue+loss%20&id=1601 3100&instance=secondary_op inion_left_column
Comment at website above
#2 Oct 25, 2011
Excellent editoral. Best explanation of Knott County situation.
#3 Oct 25, 2011
one thing about it with a property tax increase all the people will have to pay a share and not just a few that works.
#4 Oct 25, 2011
That article paints a pretty nice picture of a man who overspent, that is true but the fact of the matter is Byron Jacobs, the former county treasurer, told Thompson for over a year this was happening and he refused to accept the economic realities. He kept spending and spending and spending like an idiot until now we are in severe debt. Thompson is just a know it all dumb ass who won't listen to men with more education, expertise, and common sense than he will ever dream of having. Print that Cris Ritchie. That is the story behind the story.
#6 Oct 25, 2011
Byron couldn't believe the number of employees either.
“Me of course ”
Since: Jan 09
Good O'l Knott Co.
#7 Oct 25, 2011
Just brilliant there Wrong...could agree more. You said it like it is. :)
#8 Oct 26, 2011
No matter who you are or what you know, Thompson knows more. Byron and his begging and pleading to cut back before it's too late last year is the best example of this. He listens to know one. In his warped mind he thinks he is above the law and is smarter than any CPA, or any other human being forthat matter.
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