Each fall, after annual property taxes are mailed out, both city and county staff are repeatedly asked this question, according to Franklin County Judge-Executive Huston Wells.
“Counties are the central form of government,” he told The State Journal Wednesday. “The county is in charge of providing services that everyone has to have.”
For example, the county handles elections, voter registration, the sheriff’s office, courthouse, Franklin County Regional Jail, motor vehicle licensing and tags, landfill, county road maintenance, property valuation administrator, coroner and Lakeview Park.
“Counties are constitutional subdivisions and perform many mandated services on behalf of the state,” Susan Laurenson, county treasurer, explained. “If people want an additional layer of governance, cities can be created. The county tax layer comes first then the city.”
The current county tax rate is 18.7 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Also included in the county tax bill is the library tax at a rate of 8.5 cents per $100 of real property and 10.01 cents per $100 of personal property; and the extension district tax at a rate of 0.01615 cents for real property and 0.026812 cents for personal property.
Wells said that the jail is the largest consumer of all tax revenue.
The taxing format is defined by Kentucky law, pointed out City Manager Keith Parker, adding that the county is a designed area for political purposes within the state.
“City residents are able to enjoy the benefits provided in two jurisdictions and enhanced economies of scale for shared services provided,” Parker said.
City property taxes help cover solid waste, local agencies and quasi-government services, localized fire and police, code enforcement, city road maintenance and parks in the city.
The current city tax rate is 19.8 cents for each $100 of assessed valuation of all real and personal property.
Both city and county property taxes must be postmarked by Dec. 31. Residents who pay before Nov. 30 receive a 2% discount. A 5% penalty is included for all county taxes collected between Jan. 1-31. The 21% penalty period for county taxes runs from Feb. 1 to April 15. City taxpayers who pay after Dec. 31 will be subject to a 10% penalty, as well as an additional ½% interest compounded monthly to unpaid taxes.