Magistrates hand business license job to sheriff

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By Ben Carlson

Without a hint of conversation or controversy, the Anderson County Fiscal Court handed over business license collection and enforcement to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office during its meeting last Tuesday night.
The licenses have been a sore spot for magistrates for years, particularly on how to fairly enforce the requirement that businesses pay an annual fee.
They were formerly collected by the county clerk’s office, which had no enforcement powers. That power was assigned to the county’s code enforcement office.
Now, the sheriff’s office will be in charge of both and receive 30 percent of the revenue those licenses generate.
Magistrates have debated the licenses for years, including a proposal earlier this year by Magistrate David Ruggles to do away with them altogether.
That was stymied, though, when County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis said doing so would also require the court to end its insurance premium tax due to concerns over equal protection.
The licenses are expected to generate about $70,000 in revenue this year, a figure Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway said should be closer to $100,000 under the sheriff’s office.
Sheriff Troy Young said he was in favor of his office handling the business licenses and welcomed the additional revenue.
He said enforcement will be simple.
“If you have a business, you need a license,” he said, adding he will take over collection and enforcement July 1.
The vote was 5-1, with Ruggles voting against.
Licenses are based on the number of employees a business has, starting at $50 for one employee and maxing out at $300 for 101 or more.

Magistrates designate license
revenue to pool fund
With the announcement of a swimming facility expected within the next month, magistrates voted last Tuesday to use revenue received from business licenses to help fund the facility.
Magistrate Forest Dale Stevens recommended the idea, saying that when the discussion surfaced earlier this year to do away with licenses, it was said the fiscal court could operate without the $70,000 or so they generate.
“I think that we should put that into funding a pool,” Stevens said.
Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway offered few details about a swimming facility, but said debt service is expected to be around $8,000 a month.
“That revenue would go a long way toward paying for that,” he said.
The fiscal court already maintains a pool fund from money raised during private fundraisers, including bake sales and penny drives in the school system several years ago.
County Treasurer Dudley Shryock said that fund includes about $46,000, and cannot be spent for any other purpose than a pool.
Conway said a second pool fund will be established from business license revenue and would be used for debt service or other expenses associated with the facility.

Pulling track in limbo
A motion last Tuesday by Magistrate David Montgomery to end truck and tractor pulls at the county park until a revised contract is created sparked nearly an hour-long debate that ended with nothing official taking place.
Organizations that use the track, including Kerry Motorsports, the Kentucky Truck Tuggers and a group of lawnmower enthusiasts have apparently not lived up to their previous contracts by providing financial information to the fiscal court following events.
The lawnmower group has already reserved the pulling track for 11 dates this summer, and Kerry Motorsports is scheduled to a Kentucky Truck Pullers Association event there next month.
Montgomery said it appears that event, and others, won’t happen because the groups have gotten together to build a track elsewhere.

County employees get pay increase
A 2-percent pay increase for those employed by the Anderson County Fiscal Court was unanimously approved last Tuesday night.
Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway said it will mark the first pay raise for employees in three years, and can be paid for out of the county’s general fund.
“There are a lot of county employees living below the poverty level at $23,000 to $25,000 a year,” he said.
The raise will cost taxpayers just under $50,000 a year and was recommended by the fiscal court’s finance committee, which includes magistrates David Ruggles and Juretta Wells.

Personnel moves
Jason Chesser was approved by magistrates to take over maintenance of the county park following the retirement of Ronnie Hume.
Chesser most recently served as the county’s lead animal control officer.
Keith Beasley was promoted in Chesser’s old position, also by a unanimous vote.
Lee White was approved to replace former code enforcement office Doug Ingram, and Davey Cunningham was hired to work at the county road department.