County tax rate will rise slightly

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By Molly Haines

Owen County taxpayers will only see a slight increase on their tax bills following the Owen County Fiscal Court’s decision to take the compensating rate.
Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith said the compensating rate brings in the same amount of money as the previous year, but that the compensating rate had risen slightly because the real property had gone down.
The real estate rate will be 12.1 cents per $100 of assessed value, as opposed to the 2011 rate of 11.8 cents, the tangible or personal property will be 13.7, the water craft, motor vehicle and aircraft will be 14.8.
During its Aug. 14 meeting, the court was addressed by Owen County Library Director Jennifer Nippert and Owen County Library Board President Richard Matthews about a proposed agreement between the library board and fiscal court.
The library board has offered to deed the current library property at 118 North Main Street to the fiscal court for use by the Owen County Senior Center.
The proposed agreement asks that the county remove snow from the parking lot and sidewalks of the new library, mow an acre and a half weekly or as needed and “Bush Hog” the remaining acreage as needed, and perform routine maintenance on the library’s outreach vehicle.
The routine maintenance would include two oil changes a year.
Keith said Monday attorneys with the Kentucky Department of Local Government had advised that the county’s mechanic not do work on the outreach vehicle.
Keith said the only stipulation to snow removal would be that any treacherous county roads be attended to first.  
The county does not own a riding lawn mower, but Keith said the Bush Hogging would not be an issue.
“What it’s getting down to is whether or not we can or should get into a 25-year agreement,” Keith said. “We’re hoping we’ll be able to agree on a time period and at the end of that time come back and review the agreement.”
The discussion was met with mixed feelings from the fiscal court, including first district magistrate Asa Phillips, who said he didn’t feel the court was responsible for some of the things being ask of the court.
“You’re looking at $65,000 roughly to mow for 25 years,” Phillips said. “You knew when you started building you’d have grass out there. ... And on the (outreach vehicle) maintenance, I’m not for that at all.”
Nippert said it’s a fair offer for the building and property.
“In providing the (current) library for public use, the board of trustees is being very generous in offering the use of this building,” Nippert said. “We’re really asking for a minimal amount in return. It’s a good, safe effort to show that we want to cooperate with the fiscal court. It’s not in the best interest of the taxpayers to not ask for something in return for the library.”
Keith said Nippert and the court would discuss the agreement again Tuesday with the library’s attorney, Mark Cobb, and the county attorney Josh Smith present.