Shepherdsville occupational tax rate may be permanent

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By Stephen Thomas

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - The Shepherdsville City Council was feeling the pinch of a tight budget just a few years ago.

In 2011,  the council searched for revenue increases. Among those ideas was a 50 percent increase in its occupational license fee, along with an increase in occupational tax rates.

The council agreed at the time to temporarily up the rate on workers from 1 percent to 1.5, effective through Jan. 1, 2015. Mayor Scott Ellis said, at the time, that the increase would generate an additional $1 million in revenue.

On Monday, the council took another step toward making the increase permanent with the first reading of a new ordinance. 

If approved after the second reading during the March 25 council meeting, the 1.5 percent tax rate would remain through 2015 and beyond.

Councilman Bernard “Bernie” Brown was on the council when the initial rate increase was approved in 2011. He recalled the increase as being temporary and questioned the status change following the meeting.

“The more I thought about it, the more I realized that,” he said. “This was supposed to be a sunsetting rate until we got back on our feet.”

With the city budget stabilized and situations such as city employee pay increases approved by the council, Brown felt the increase hike should likely remain temporary.

“That increase was approved during an emergency situation, and we are no longer in that situation,” he said.

Faith Portman, the only other councilmember who was serving on the board at the time, indicated in 2011 that she wanted to examine the financial situation annually.

The city has stabilized its finances and did recently approve pay increases and several projects.

In the past several months, the city has also become more aggressive in the collection of occupational taxes which were due, as well as licenses which were not being paid.

During that time, the city has worked out an agreement with GSI which had received all of its incentives and must now pay the entire occupational rate. A settlement was also reached with the county over some past-due taxes which were not withheld.

And the city was much more aggressive in going after part-time and seasonal jobs at the local distribution facilities.

The public is invited to the March 25 meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. In order to speak on a topic, the public must sign in prior to the 6:30 p.m. start of the meeting.