Settlement talks far from settled for court

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE – A settlement between the city of Shepherdsville and Bullitt Fiscal Court over occupational tax fees may have been reached.

But the discussion may be far from over.

A dispute arose last year over whether county employees should be subjected to the city of Shepherdsville’s occupational tax.

The original estimate of the dispute was $100,000.

Recently, an agreement was reached for the county to pay $56,001 to resolve the legal dispute.

Shepherdsville City Council members voted in January to begin settlement talks with Bullitt Fiscal Court.

The county officials voted after an executive session on Feb. 5 to make an offer to Shepherdsville.

At Shepherdsville’s Feb. 25 meeting, the council agreed to accept a $56,001 settlement offered by the county.

Currently, all county employees are paying any appropriate occupational tax fees.

Bullitt Fiscal Court agreed unanimously to have County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts sign the settlement; however, things were not quite smooth.

Magistrate Joe Laswell made a motion to approve the signing of the settlement.

But Roberts asked “why”?

She asked the same question a second time with no explanation from any of the fiscal court members.

County attorney Monica Meredith Robinson said that settling the dispute protects employees from any collection efforts by the city.

Also, the settlement figure was lower than what she and city attorney Joseph Wantland anticipated. The figure of $56,000 was generated by the attorney for the county treasurer, who is also a party of both the city’s suit and the county’s cross-complaint.

The final figure of $56,001 was agreed upon.

At that point, Robinson said the two local attorneys were tweaking the final language of the settlement for the parties to sign.

After getting no feedback from the magistrates, Roberts said, “this is your tax dollars” going to pay for the mistake of the county treasurer.

At that point, treasurer Kenann Sharp put her hand in the air and Robinson reminded the court that there was still an open lawsuit on that part of the case.

“The mistake has occurred,” said Roberts, who said it was her duty to protect the taxpayers.

The vote was unanimous in favor of signing the settlement.

In an earlier hearing in Bullitt Circuit Court, part of the discussion centered on the treasurer’s role. At that hearing, her attorney said that the treasurer was only in charge of entering payroll information provided by others. She would not be able to make decisions on who paid what amount in occupational taxes.

The county’s insurance attorney argued at the same hearing that county employees would not be subject to the tax since they are part of non-profit agencies.

Wantland contended that the county employees were obligated to pay the tax.

Roberts said following the meeting that she would not talk to Sharp due to legal advice.