- Associated Press - Friday, March 10, 2017

WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky. (AP) - Officials in a financially troubled northern Kentucky county have approved a new tax on workers in an effort to avoid having the state take over its finances.

The Kentucky Enquirer (http://cin.ci/2maTlmE) reports Grant County officials voted 3-1 Thursday to implement a 2 percent wage tax on workers in the rural community. The newspaper reports that the county risked running out of money by June 1 without the tax.

The move comes amid a long-running disagreement between Judge-Executive Steve Wood and Jailer Chris Hankins that nearly led to the local jail closing. The state pulled inmates, and the funding to house them, from the facility, which jail officials say has cost the county more than $1 million.

Before the vote, some residents voiced opposition to the plan and vented criticism about how the county’s finances have been handled.

Coffee shop owner Bren Murphy told county officials that she’d prefer the state take over.

“I feel you have two pistols,” Murphy said. “One is fully loaded with bullets soaked in poison. That’s what the county holds. The other is Russian roulette, that’s the state.”

Business owner Keith Kinmon said the move puts the tax burden on the small percentage of people who work in the county.

“I think they could have structured it different to where everybody could have accepted some of the burden,” Kinmon said. “I think they put all the burden on 25 percent of the people, which is the working man.”

Judge-Executive Steve Wood told The Enquirer after the meeting that he’s been open about the situation and there’s a large base of support for the wage tax.

“There’s a silent majority; I’ve got all kinds of letters of support,” Wood said. “There may be mistrust, but that’s strictly with what they tell each other. I don’t have a problem with me and my magistrates at all. I think we work well together.”

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

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