Garrard County Judge-executive John Wilson has some ideas for what to do with the money being collected through the insurance premium tax, which was originally instituted to pay off the debt on the old hospital, a debt that is now paid.
During the Garrard County Fiscal Court meeting on Monday night, Wilson expressed his wish to use the money toward an endowment to which organizations in the county could apply for funds.
“This would be a gift from the taxpayers, to the taxpayers,” he said.
The money, an estimated $700,000 based on last year’s collections, would be saved for the residents of Garrard County. Wilson explained to magistrates that they could set the terms of the endowment, ensuring that only county organizations could apply for the money, like a grant, which would come out of the interest earned. The principal would never be touched, ensuring the existence of the endowment for as long as Garrard County exists, according to Wilson.
“It gives forever,” he said.
Based on an illustration by The Community Foundation of Louisville, a principal of $500,000 at year one could yield $20,000. By year 50, the principal will have grown to more than $2 million, with a grant of around $85,000 available, and with a total of $2.25 million in grants delivered over the 50 years. These numbers are not considered promises or final determinations, just examples of the possible amounts that could result from such an endowment.
Magistrate Fred Simpson requested Wilson lay out the details for creating the endowment versus finding a way to pay back every citizen who was taxed under this premium.
“I’m not sure that it’s outside the realm of possibility (for the money) to be returned,” Simpson said.
Wilson agreed to draw up the details, but stressed that it simply would not be feasible to attempt to return the money to every single taxpayer. After hiring someone to help sort the money to the appropriate people and after the money taken out by insurance companies, he fears the amount wouldn’t be enough.
“My concern is, we would run out of money and have people that still need to be paid,” Wilson said. With the endowment, he believes the money would not run out and the count “will have provided for our children and our children’s children.”
Magistrates did not take an action on the endowment idea; however, they did agree to consider the suggestion before making any final decision on what to do with the money.
Sheriff Ronnie Wardrip’s previous suggestion to pay off police vehicles, made at the October meeting, was also discussed and may be considered. He hopes the court will pay off the cruisers, freeing up his funds to consider hiring two more deputies.
According to Wilson, there would likely be enough to pay off the debt on the ambulance and police vehicles and still have money to put into the endowment fund.