Thursday, December 18, 2003

High court to hear payroll tax raise case

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - The Kentucky Supreme Court has agreed to hear Covington's appeal of a disputed Kenton County payroll tax increase.

"We're very pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case,'' said Covington City Solicitor Jay Fossett. "It doesn't mean we're necessarily going to win, but it does mean that the ruling by the Court of Appeals is not the final decision.''

In October 2002, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that Kenton County did not break the law when it raised its payroll tax on Jan. 1, 2001, to help pay for a new jail. The city of Covington, several businesses, two taxpayers and a labor union appealed the case to Kentucky's highest court.

At Tuesday night's Covington City Commission meeting, Commissioner Alex Edmondson called for the sides to negotiate a resolution to their differences.

Kenton County Deputy Judge-executive Scott Kimmich could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The multi-story jail in the county administration building near Covington's riverfront is undergoing $800,000 in stopgap renovations.

In authorizing the work last April, members of Kenton County Fiscal Court said the improvements were needed to relieve crowding and meet state standards.

After a Kenton Circuit Court judge initially ruled the disputed payroll tax hike was illegal, the fiscal court refunded about $4.3 million to workers who had paid it.


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