STANFORD — Lincoln County residents will see a slight increase in real property taxes this year after the fiscal court voted Tuesday to take the compensating tax rate.
The county's real property tax will increase from 9.2 cents on every $100 of assessed value to 9.5 cents. That means a homeowner with a house valued at $100,000 will pay $95 in real property tax to the county — $3 more than last year.
Magistrates voted to take the compensating rate for personal property taxes as well. The new rate will be almost exactly the same as last year, dropping from 11.23 cents per $100 to 11.21 cents.
Compensating property tax rates are the rates that would provide the county with approximately the same amount of total tax revenue that it had last year, based on the most recent assessment of total property value in the county.
This year, total real property value dropped in Lincoln County by around $4 million, which is why the tax rate had to increase in order for the county to get the same amount of revenue.
Judge-Executive Jim Adams said the county set property tax rates last year to give the county a 4-percent revenue increase.
"It wasn't a popular move, but it did allow us to reduce some of our debts," he said.
Adams said this year, with total property value in the county down, it would not have been fair to ask taxpayers to absorb a 4-percent revenue increase as well.
A 4-percent revenue increase is the largest increase taxing districts are allowed to make without triggering the possibility of a voter recall.
Based on documents from Property Valuation Administrator David Gambrel, Lincoln County will bring in approximately $930,879 in 2012 taxes.
$725,470 of that is from real property, $36,719 is from personal property, $164,177 is from automobiles and $4,513 is from boats.
According to PVA records, the county was expected to bring in $910,349 in 2011 tax revenues, including $706,278 from real property.
911 funding ordinance passes
The fiscal court unanimously passed the second reading of an ordinance that could eventually become the main source of funding for 911 service in Lincoln County.
The ordinance institutes a 25-cent monthly fee on all water meters in the county. The original plan was to institute a $2.50 monthly water-meter fee and repeal the $3 landline fee that currently funds 911 service.
County Attorney and Bluegrass 911 board member Daryl Day said the move to water meters will be challenged in court once implemented, so officials want to leave the landline fee in place until they can be sure the water-meter fee is constitutional.
If a court rules the water-meter fee legal, then Lincoln and Garrard counties' fiscal courts can vote to do away with the landline fees that fund Bluegrass 911 and raise the water meter fees up to $2.50, Day said.
Magistrate Joseph Stanley asked if there had been any progress made on determining what will happen for people like farmers, who have multiple water meters.
Day said Bluegrass 911's board has been actively discussing solutions to that issue and hopes to have a plan that it can recommend to the fiscal courts once the water-meter fee clears its legal hurdles and is ready to be fully implemented.
Adams, who also serves on the 911 board, said farmers shouldn't have to pay multiple fees for water meters they use for livestock.
"You don't call 911 for cattle," he said.
But for landlords and others who own multiple residential properties, Adams said he thinks they should be subject to a fee for each water meter, because in theory, each water meter is at a location where 911 service could be provided.
The push for alternatives to landline fees for 911 funding is due to an ever-shrinking number of landlines in Lincoln and Garrard counties.
Proponents say as fewer and fewer people use landlines, it unfairly leaves more and more of the financial burden for 911 service on the backs of senior citizens.