Rural Health study coming to Boyle, county adjusts compensating tax rates

Published 3:42 pm Wednesday, August 16, 2023


The Fiscal Court heard about a new health study coming to Boyle County at their meeting on Aug. 8.

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The RURAL (Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal) Heart and Lung Study will start in Boyle County in early 2025. They are looking for people to participate to learn about baseline heart and lung function over time.

Stephanie Boone from the University of Louisville, who is part of the School of Public Health and Information Sciences, is involved in conducting the study, and she explained that it is a prospective epidemiology study, which is how risk factors change over time and compared to other populations throughout the country. Boone said there have been very few studies on heart and lung health in rural communities over a long period of time.

The study is funded mainly by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for $22 million. They are recruiting 4,600 people from Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi to participate.

About 1,600 of those people will be recruited from Kentucky in four selected counties: Boyle, Garrard, Perry, and Breathitt. They’re looking for about 800 participants from Boyle and Garrard counties, about 500 of which would be from Boyle County. Participants must be working age adults between 25 and 64 years old.

Participants will have to get exams on heart, lung and blood vessel health. The study will pay participants a total of $150 to get an initial exam, wear a fitbit over six months, and answer questions on an app over that time period, and then get another exam after six months.

“This isn’t a clinical study, it’s a research study; so while we do have clinical exams, we provide the results that are read by the physicians on our study so people can take them to their doctor,” Boone said. “These are really good screening tests for heart function, valve function, as well as lung function.”

The study will have a mobile exam unit with machines like a CT scanner and echocardiogram, and will be looking at things like coronary artery calcium, lung function with spirometry, and any kind of clinical and subclinical risk factors for cardiovascular disease and lung disease.

Recruitment efforts will begin soon, and people may receive invitations by mail to participate. Instructors will also be attending events and health fairs throughout the county to spread the word in hopes of recruiting people to the study.

While they’re beginning to recruit soon, the study won’t officially start in Boyle County until the beginning of 2025.

Tax rates

The court agreed to adjust some tax rates in the county to new compensating rates this year. Compensating rates adjust how much the government taxes things that change in value. Since assessed values on real and personal property have increased, the compensating tax rate is decreasing.

The real property tax rate is going from 6.4 to 6.0, which means that $60 for every $100,000 will be taxed, going down from $64. Personal property rates are going from 7.7 to 6.7.

Taxes from distilled spirits in the county are under personal property, and the amount of taxes that the local government is getting from distilleries is increasing, due to new distilleries and expansion of current distilleries. Their compensating rate will decrease, but the government is still getting more money from having more distilleries.

“The assessments have really increased over the last year, so taking the compensating rate will really help us stay within the amount that we would normally receive, maybe a small portion higher, but it doesn’t put any extra burden on the taxpayers,” Judge Executive Trille Bottom said.

Tax rates staying the same include motor vehicle and watercraft at 6.9; aircraft at 7.7; agricultural products at 4.5; and paint deposits at 0.025.

In other business, the court:

• Heard a presentation on a newly formed group, Solarize Boyle. The group was formed to help local individuals get solar panels to power their home or business. It’s not connected to or promoting industrial solar farms.

Solarize Boyle is a program to help give Boyle County residents, small businesses, farms, and non-profit organizations discounted rates on solar panel installations. Volunteers of the group will be connecting applicants for solar panels with solar installation companies.

Volunteers will pre-screen the applications in order to filter out bad applications, and will pre-screen solar installers in order to help applicants get the best service. The court will hear more about the program and decide how to participate in a future meeting.

• Passed the first reading of Ordinance 110.4 establishing the updated geographic boundaries for magisterial districts in Boyle County. The court approved the new magistrate map in June.

• Passed a resolution to adopt a new road, Bill Silvey Road, which is in the Hunt Farm subdivision.

• A representative from Spectrum will be coming to the August 22 meeting to give an update on broadband expansion.

• There will be a public engagement meeting on August 24 about the new comprehensive plan from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Showroom for people to learn about what it is and how to bring comments to the court about it.