Fiscal court has busy meeting with roads, shelter fees and budget issues

Posted May 2, 2017 at 9:02 am

Clinton Fiscal Court dealt with several issues, including a proposed road ordinance amendment, animal shelter fees and related items, budgets and more in approximate one hour and 10 minute regular session held last Thursday evening, April 20 with all court members on hand.

The court first dealt with routine items, including accepting the monthly and quarterly treasurer’s report, approving fund transfers and voting to pay claims and bills, the latter on the now-normal 4-3 vote. Magistrates Herhsell Key, Johnny Russell and Terry Buster voting yes and magistrates Patty Guinn, Ricky Craig and Mickey Riddle voting no–each opposing the county paying for work release jail inmate lunches. Judge-Executive Richard Armstrong broke the tie with a yes vote.

The court then approved three separate budgets, including two taxing districts and the tourist commission budget for the upcoming 2017-18 fiscal year.

During discussion on the tourism budget, it was noted that the tourism board will be basically operating its own business and paying bills associated with the tourism commission from transient tax fees collected from lodging establishments. However, the fiscal court will still have overall final say insofar as appointing board members and approving any rate adjustments proposed by the tourism board.

Judge-Executive Armstong then informed the court that the Twin Lakes Family Wellness Center now has its own maintenance person, which is saving the facility money, and said Green Mechanical, who had the contract to conduct routine maintenance had asked to be released from their contract.

The court, on a motion by magistrate Riddle, voted unanimously to grant the company’s request and allow the Wellness Center to use their own maintenance person.

On a motion by magistrate Craig, two new recreation/park board replacement members were unanimously approved by the court, including Kelly Harmon and Adam Davidson.

The court then discussed at length the county’s road ordinance, involving recommended amendments to the current document from judge Armstrong, which the judge said would allow the county to take more county roads.

Judge Armstrong noted the current ordinance was drawn up in 2011 and said now, the county was “running out of roads that aren’t already blacktopped.” He said he was requesting some wording changes what would allow the county to do more blacktopping on county roads while road fund money is available.

Magistrate Ricky Craig said he was concerned that everyone in the county, including short roadways that basically go nowhere, would want their roads blacktopped and also expressed concerns about possibly having to do blacktopping in subdivisions that have been created without the ones who built the subdivisions getting road entrances prepared.

Magistrate Terry Buster noted that although the county had the equipment to do road work, that didn’t mean that they would have to, or would, blacktop all roads.

Magistrate Riddle also expressed concerns about subdivision areas, noting that in many cases, contractors building the subdivisions but then stuck the county with having to fix the roads. “I’m not against more (county) roads, but I am concerned about promises of subdivisions, noting contractors should do their own road work.

Magistrate Craig also noted he would be in favor of the amendments if it did not include the blacktopping of subdivision areas.

Clinton Assistant County Attorney Gary Little told the court that road issues “can be very complicated.” If they are maintained by the county, they need to be put into the county system and once adopted it is the county’s responsibility to maintain, he added.

Judge Armstrong also noted that the more county road miles there were in a county, the more state funding that county may be eligible to secure to help maintain. He also voiced Buster’s opinion that all roads would not be blacktopped, but would be done only on an “as money becomes available” basis.

Little noted that an amended ordinance could be prepared with some stipulations and wording the magistrates agreed upon.

Following the discussion, the court agreed to have Little draw up a draft amending road ordinance for the court to review at its next regular meeting.

With little discussion, the court voted unanimously to retain the same insurance carrier to provide county employee insurance coverage for the upcoming fiscal year.

Judge Armstrong noted the current provider, with a “no shop guarantee” by the county, would assure that any increase in rates for insurance next year, for employees in good standing, would not increase more than five percent. He also added the current provider has been doing a good job and employees were satisfied with the coverage.

A motion to keep the current carrier, with the guarantee that any rate increase would not exceed five percent, was made by magistrate Riddle and passed on a 6-0 vote.

The court then voted to go in partnership to purchase a new, much-needed lawn mower for the Mountain View Park.

The total cost of the mower, according to judge Armstrong, is $9,850 and the cost would be split three ways, with the county and city contributing $3,675 each to go along with a $2,500 allocation from the Healthy Hometown Coalition. The motion to approve the county’s share was made by magistrate Craig and passed unanimously.

Although making the motion to approve the mower purchase, Craig also opened a brief discussion on the problem of trash allegedly not being picked up on a timely basis at the park, as well as restrooms being locked early in the mornings when many people use the park’s walking track.

Judge Armstrong said the (fiscal) court members should attend a park board meeting and discuss some of the concerns they and other citizens may have.

The court, on a motion by Riddle, voted to advertise for road salt and road materials.

Some issues, including proposed fee rate changes for the Tri-County Animal Shelter, were then discussed with Rescue Coordinator Tanya Costello, and a separate article on the shelter, including the new rates, appears in a separate article beginning on page 1.

Prior to adjournment, magistrate Riddle reported to the court that Tim Eslinger, with Equity Group, had asked it to be announced that the poultry processing facility is currently looking to employ some 300 “local” workers and anyone interested in working there should apply at the facility in person.

The next regular meeting of Clinton Fiscal Court is scheduled for May 18 at 5 p.m. and is open to the general public.