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County, city reach deal on past due payroll tax

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By Stephen Thomas

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - A lawsuit involving Bullitt Fiscal Court and the city of Shepherdsville can now be placed into the rear-view mirror.

The two parties have reached a settlement in regards to a conflict over occupational taxes not being withheld for county employees working within city limits.

Shepherdsville city attorney Joe Wantland followed up an executive session of the Shepherdsville City Council by announcing that the county agreed to a payment amount of $56,001, ending any further litigation.

The city had filed a lawsuit against Fiscal Court, as well as the county treasurer,  based on concerns that county employees working in the city were not having the 1.5 percent occupational tax withheld.

Shepherdsville officials agreed to negotiate a settlement with Fiscal Court, who also agreed to offer an amount to end the dispute.

Wantland said the county was currently abiding by the ordinance and properly withholding the occupational tax.

"Steps have been taken toward past errors," Wantland said. "The county is now reporting correct income."

Wantland mentioned determining a specific amount through litigation put the county in "an awkward position" and placed a burden on the city's shoulders. At one point, the past due amount had been mentioned at over $100,000.

"It would be cumbersome for the city to audit each employee," he said. "An audit was performed... there may be errors but it shows a representation" of the estimated amount.

Magistrates Ruthie Ashbaugh and John Bradshaw were both in attendance at Monday's meeting.

In other business:

*The council approved an emergency contract with Kelsey Construction, Inc., to move forward with upgrades to the sewer system plaguing the Shawnee Acres subdivision.

"This is an emergency," said mayor Scott Ellis. He and Wantland mentioned previous drainage issues in the area that led to the city paying for various home repairs.

City sewer department supervisor Chuck Keith informed the council that Kelsey could start upgrades within three weeks time, completing the work in another two weeks.

According to Keith, the plan, originally budgeted for $80,000 in repairs, might be completed by Kelsey at a cost of under $50,000.

Ellis said that since the situation was considered an emergency, the council could approve Kelsey for the work immediately, without taking bids for the work.

"This company is listed as our emergency contractor," he said.

Council member Dana Bischoff James asked Keith what the effect would be of waiting on the improvements two more weeks until the next meeting. Keith said it was difficult to answer pending on the type of weather experienced during that time.

"I'd feel better waiting two weeks and putting this out for a bid," James said.

Council member Bernard "Bernie" Brown felt the matter had been discussed for two years and did not feel it was now a sudden emergency situation.

"We've had time to get bids," Brown said.

The council approved the emergency bid to Kelsey by a 4-2  vote, with James and Brown against.

*The council, feeling that the city's budget has been maintained, recently approved payment increases for city employees, including police officers and fire fighters.

Shepherdsville Fire Chief Layne Troutman hoped the city could now take care of another serious matter of renewing firefighting equipment for the department.

Troutman contacted city council members in regards to implementing mitigation funds to upgrade the department's Swift Water Team.

According to Troutman, the Swift Water Team implemented boats and trained crews to assist in emergencies throughout Bullitt County and the Louisville region.

Troutman requested a total of around $15,000 for the purchase of a swift water package that included all necessary gear, as well as training for 15 members.

Once approved for the funding, Troutman addressed the council in regards to using funds from the recent purchase of a department rescue truck for an upgrade in turnout gear.

The truck sold in January for $35,000, money that went into the city's general fund. Troutman felt that the money, accumulated through a fire department sale, could go back into the department.

"We are in dire need for turnout gear and helmets," he said. "This is what is used during fires, our coats, our pants and our helmets. We have been borrowing from other departments. Going into a fire is dangerous and improper gear could be deadly."

The cost for the gear was estimated at $30,625. Troutman mentioned the turnout gear had a life span of 10 years.

Council member Jose Cubero requested that Troutman bring budget number to the next meeting to show specifically what he hoped to implement.

- The council approved a lease agreement renewal for the old police building located on Frank E. Simon Ave.

The facility was leased for one year at $23,140 the Administrative Office of the Courts, which houses the drug court program in the building.

- The council approved a new checking account with Park Community Federal Credit Union for donations serving the Shepherdsville Santa program.

Similar to Hillview's Operation Santa, the Shepherdsville Santa program will provide gifts and meals for needy families.

Ellis said the city's inaugural attempt helped to serve 125 families in 2012.

- The next meeting of the Shepherdsville City Council will be on Monday, March 11, at 6:30 p.m. Anyone wishing to speak must sign up prior to the start of the meeting. The public is invited.