WHITLEY COUNTY — With a large number of community members in attendance, members of the Whitley County Board of Health took their meeting outside to the parking lot Monday night to maintain safe health practices. It was there at the recommendation of Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison that board members voted to rescind their previous tax rate increase.
The issue which seemed to gain attention first in June by local government officials and again in September by land owners drew a large crowd to the Whitley County Health Department in Williamsburg. The crowd varied from health department supporters, business owners, senior citizens and community members who simply weren’t in support of a tax increase.
Board members voted to keep the tax rate at 4 percent a rate that it has been for approximately 26 according to board members. There was previous discussion and vote to raise the tax rate to 5 percent.
Whitley County Judge Executive Pat White Jr. has been an advocate against the tax increase from the beginning. White said previously that he believed the local health department was trying to pass that at the direction of the leadership in Frankfort.
“It’s largely to pay on their retirement issues, they’re part of the state retirement,” White said previously. “Frankly I don't think local property taxes should be used to pay the state retirement systems failings. That's a state created issue and that state needs to correct it.”
Many like White believe that the tax issue needs to be dealt with at the next legislative session.
There was no discussion among board members, at least not during the meeting regarding the vote, however the board took comments from the crowd.
Ed Woods spoke and thanked the board for keeping the rate at 4 percent. He spoke on behalf of other senior citizens and those on a fixed income. Woods noted many statistics on taxes in Whitley County compared to the rest of the country.
Mike Lawson also spoke and reminded the board of directors that the community would continue to watch their actions.
Next Whitley County Health Department Director Marcy Rein gave a report on a wide variety of events and upcoming programs that are underway in the department.
The Whitley County Board of Health entered into a brief executive session regarding a personnel issue in which no action was taken.