Saturday, August 14, 2004

Property taxes to stay the same


Covington will try to pare outlays

By Cindy Schroeder
Enquirer staff writer

COVINGTON - This city's property tax rates for 2004 will stay the same as last year, marking the 27th consecutive year they have either dropped or stayed flat.

Covington's property tax rate will stay at $2.99 per $1,000 assessed property value.

That's the lowest property tax rates have been since at least World War II and a drop from the rate of $3.22 per $1,000 assessed property value that was in effect three years ago.

The public can have its say on the proposed rate at a public hearing on Aug. 24, but property owners rarely attend, city officials said.

"In the five years I've been with the city, I haven't seen one person speak up,'' said Covington Finance Director Bob Due. "I guess there hasn't been that triggering mechanism to call people's attention to (the tax rate). I think if there was an increase in the rate, we would have more response.''

A typical property owner with a $75,000 home will pay $224.25 a year, Due said.

"People get enough in the tax area with the Covington school board,'' Mayor Butch Callery said. "We felt the very least we could do for our residents was keep our property tax rate at the same level while continuing to provide great services.''

Callery said the city recently brought in an additional $380,000 for operating expenses and added more than 40 businesses to the city's tax rolls after an eight-week amnesty campaign to collect late payroll and net profits taxes.

Omnicare and the Internal Revenue Service also increased the number of employees in the past year, and the city will receive taxes from another 350 workers when Club Chef opens in south Covington this November.

However, Covington is looking at double-digit increases this budget year in everything from workers compensation (20 percent) to state pensions (22 percent) to health insurance (11 percent), Due has said.

To prevent a $1.3 million shortfall, city officials are considering various fee increases, attrition and cost-cutting options, such as a 10-percent cut in employee overtime. Some of the fees the city hasn't raised in at least 10 years include parking tickets, 2:30 a.m. liquor licenses, regular beer and alcohol licenses, and occupational license fees.

"Like everyone else, we're hoping for an upturn in the economy,'' Callery said. "We're still pushing to create more jobs in the city, which will broaden our revenues, and we're watching what we spend.''




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