SHEPHERDSVILLE - If residents in territory considered to be in "no man's land" want a fire taxing district, don't look for Bullitt Fiscal Court to take the first step.
Bullitt Fiscal Court members voted unanimously to not proceed with any alteration to the current Lebanon Junction Fire Protection District.
That district, formed in 1982, consists of a small area of Wilson Creek Road.
Several months ago, a request was made for fiscal court to alter the boundaries of the district to include all territory outside the Lebanon Junction corporate limits and outside land currently part of the Southeast Bullitt Fire Protection District.
In prior meetings, magistrates had heard requests to expand the boundaries due to upcoming changes in the ISO ratings which could increase insurance rates if certain standards were not met.
On Jan. 15, however, magistrates were met with several residents and two city officials who were opposed to the expansion of the boundaries.
Lebanon Junction mayor James "Butch" Sweat was a member of Bullitt Fiscal Court in 1982 when the district was formed to stop others from taking over the territory.
He said the issue doesn't involve the city of Lebanon Junction. The city fire department has long had a deal to provide protection and they bill the property owner $250 per run.
If a fire happened today, Sweat said the city firefighters would be there to help. But he didn't think the tax issue should be forced on people and there are many who are opposed to any expansion of the fire tax district.
"I can't see cramming it down the people's throat," said Sweat. "We're going to serve the people of Bullitt County, not just Lebanon Junction."
He wasn't aware of an ISO issues in the city and he said people seem to be pleased.
City councilman Larry Dangerfield said he has gotten a lot of calls but most of them dealt with rumors. While there are discussions about insurance taxes going up if the ISO ratings are changes, Dangerfield said the property owners aren't being told that they are going to have to pay taxes to the fire district.
With the state of the economy, Dangerfield said he didn't think fiscal court needed to approve putting another tax on people.
His concern is that rumors are causing people to be misled on the issue for the sake of getting tax dollars and ultimately a firehouse.
If the county allowed the expansion of the taxing district, it would be likely that the fire board would have to contract with another entity, with Lebanon Junction being a possibility, to provide service until enough revenue is generated to build a firehouse and purchase equipment.
Allen Waters said he opposed the taxing district.
He said the tax is nothing more than a way to generate money for a full-time job and retirement benefits for someone.
Once the tax is imposed, Waters said it is forever.
David Harrod said he called his insurance agent and was told there would not be any change on the premiums paid.
He was pleased with the current arrangement with the city.
Garland Waters said his insurance went down when water service and hydrants were provided on Wilson Creek Road.
In his 70 years, K.D. Ricketts said he never saw a tax reduction.
"I think this is the wrong time," said Ricketts, who appreciated the work done to study the proposal.
Magistrate John Bradshaw said he saw no reason to amend the existing ordinance. He said it appears that a number of people are opposed to extending the boundaries of the taxing district.
Those in the current taxing district have never paid any funds to any entity, according to county attorney Monica Meredith Robinson. This is because a board has not been properly selected by the court made up of individuals who actually live within the district lines.
Robinson's legal advice to the court was to rescind the current taxing district since two of the three members appointed do not live in the territory.
If Southeast Bullitt or any other fire district wanted to annex that area, it would have to go through the process and fiscal court would have the final say.
Currently, Southeast Bullitt Fire District is annexing portions of property south of Belmont Road. It already served territory north of Belmont Road.
Fiscal Court would ultimately have the final decision.
If property owners in the "no man's land" territory in question wanted to go the petition route, Robinson said fiscal court would have to rule on their annexation request.
"I'm against taxes," said Bradshaw.
He added taxing districts could be a large waste of tax dollars in the state.
The court voted unanimously to not move forward with the plans to expand the current Lebanon Junction Fire Tax District. Residents in the area can now petition fiscal court to take some action.