Exasperated counties considering tax increases and bracing for layoffs because of pension costs

09/24/2012 07:46 AM

Kentucky counties are struggling to balance the cost of their services with their increasing share of employee pension costs.

Last week, the Warren County Fiscal Court rejected a proposed tax increase on real estate in order to help defray rising costs of employee pensions. As a result, Republican Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon warned the magistrates that layoffs would be nearly inevitable as long as county contributions keep rising they way they have in recent years.

Buchanon also noted the inequity between the state and counties. Counties and cities can’t short the amount they put into the County Employees Retirement System fund as the employer. (Kentucky League of Cities leaders talked about that Pure Politics. But the state hasn’t paid its required share to the Kentucky Employee Retirement System for the last decade.

Buchanon also said state lawmakers need to take “bold action” to change to the pension system to ensure it doesn’t go belly-up.

On Tuesday, the Warren County Fiscal Court declined to increase the real estate tax to 14.8 cents per $100 from 14.5 cents per $100. They had also proposed to decrease personal property rates slightly. Instead, the fiscal court agreed to keep the real estate tax the same but did lower personal property rates anyway.

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