Madison County Judge suggests first tax increase in 30 years

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MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ)-If you live in Madison County, you could soon be opening your wallet a bit wider for the county.

In his State of the County address, the Judge Executive suggested raising taxes for the first time in 30 years.

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Jail overcrowding is one reason he says the county needs more money. As ABC 36 has reported before, the jail was built for fewer than 200 beds, but these days it typically houses more than 350 people at a time. Projects, like building a new jail, are expensive.

This was Judge Reagan Taylor’s fourth state of the county address, the last of his term and he maybe worries it might be his last ever.

“We can raise taxes,” he said, pausing for a few seconds.

After three decades without an increase, Taylor suggests the county adopt an insurance premium tax, a tax Berea and Richmond already collect.

“In all honesty, what I really want to say isn’t popular, it certainly isn’t something that elected officials, especially people in the middle of a campaign season say,” Taylor said.

The Judge Executive says there are budget demands cuts cannot keep up with, as with the drug crisis. The County invests almost $4,000,000 each year for the sheriff and jail budgets.

“We have to stop hemorrhaging money,” Taylor said.

Taylor doesn’t know yet how much more the average person would have to pay, but he says this is the way to grow the County.

“Join me in continuing to build it better together,” he finished.

He got a standing ovation. I couldn’t find anyone in the room in opposition.

“It’s going to help keep this community safe for my kids. I’m all about it,” Keith Long said.

“His speech was very blunt, but I like that approach and I can appreciate some honesty in government,” Traviss Witt said.

“You know what? I’m fine with paying more taxes if I need to because it’s really well worth the money, the things he’s wanting to do going forward,” Lisa Meeker said.

Those things include attracting businesses and expanding the jail, but to get the money, Taylor will have to get a yes vote from the fiscal court, something he wants to do before the end of his term.

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Veronica Jean Seltzer joins ABC 36 as Anchor/Reporter. On most weekdays, you will see her reporting the news. VJ hails from a small horse farm outside New York City and most recently comes from South Bend, Indiana where she reported for the CBS and Fox affiliates. VJ holds a Master of Science in Journalism degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University. Her passion for journalism runs deep. It began as she studied graffiti as an ancient form of communication in Athens, Greece. While a student journalist in Morocco, she learned her most important journalistic lesson: good stories are about people. VJ loves life in and around Lexington. She feels most at home among horses and a diverse community of fascinating people. She enjoys reporting during the week and on the weekend she strives to bring her neighbors the news that matters most to them. VJ enjoys going to neighborhood events, exploring, horseback riding, skiing, sailing, and good movies. Look for her out and about in the community! VJ invites you to reach out to her with story ideas or just to say hello! Find her on Facebook at Veronica Jean Seltzer ABC 36, tweet her @VJS_ABC36, or email her at VSeltzer@wtvq.com. She looks forward to hearing from you!