Fiscal court meeting is lengthy with full agenda

Posted May 23, 2019 at 10:22 am

Clinton County Fiscal Court held a lengthy regular meeting last Thursday, May 16 with all members present and an array of items being either voted on or discussed.

The one hour and 20-minute session began with a combined public hearing that had been advertised, requesting comments on the use of LGEA (Local Government Economic Assistance) and County Road Aid funds, with no public comments being made.

After receiving the treasurer’s report, the court approved fund transfers and voted to pay claims and bills, including a $1,700 Tax Masters bill from the sheriff’s office that sheriff Jeff Vincent said he didn’t know had to be paid by his office.

Cindy Thrasher, former secretary for former sheriff Jim Guffey, also said the county had paid the same Tax Masters bill one year during that administration and the sheriff’s department paid the other years.

The court, in voting to include that bill to be paid, noted it would pay this year’s bill and asked sheriff Vincent to budget that payment from his office in future years.

Court members then voted to allow a small amount of leftover funds from the County Clerk’s office to be kept in cash drawers in the clerk’s office, in the amount of approximately $320, per a recommendation by auditors.

On a motion by magistrate Terry Buster, the court voted to accept the low bid on road salt, which was obtained through an Internet auction, at $103 per ton, up to 400,000 ton.

The contractor stipulated that the county would have to take at least 70 percent, or 280,000 tons of salt to be stored for use by the road department during winter weather.

Road foreman Danny Abston noted several thousand tons of salt were still on hand and space to store the salt was low, but the department is looking at ways and places to store the extra 280,000 ton.

First reading of the proposed 2019-20 fiscal year budget was approved on a motion by magistrate Gary Ferguson and will now be forwarded to the Department of Local Government for its approval.

The magistrates will review the budget and recommend any changes prior to second and final reading which will be held in June.

On a motion by magistrate Jerry Lowhorn, and also on a recommendation by county auditors, the members voted to allow the Tourism Commission board to be responsible for all finances within that commission and make monthly reports to the fiscal court.

The county has already closed its account in regards to the Tourism Commission operations and financing.

For the third meeting in a row, the court entered into a closed session on personnel. The closed portion lasted about 15 minutes with no action being taken.

Emergency Management Director Lonnie Scott then addressed the court about the situation regarding keeping paramedics at the local EMS, primarily due to other counties paying more in start-up salaries.

Scott noted that paramedics are required to be on board an ambulance during ALS (Advanced Life Support) runs and the EMS is required by law to have employee on standby 24 hours a day.

He further noted that over the last year, the county had paid out $149,000 in overtime alone and recommended that as a way of saving costs overall, to raise the starting paramedic wage to $14.50 per hour, increased to $15 per hour after the initial 90-day trial period. Scott estimated this would save the county and EMS approximately $54,000 per year.

A motion to that effect was made by magistrate Lowhorn and passed on a unanimous vote.

Following various department head reports, including from the road foreman, recycling coordinator, jailer, EMS director and animal shelter coordinator, it was announced by Scott, in the absence of Solid Waste Coordinator Andy Davis, that the most recent tire collection day in Clinton County was a tremendous success, with an estimated 18,000 tires being collected.

Magistrate Marcum then questioned the costs pertaining to the recycling center, noting the numbers appeared to show the facility had only generated $63,000 over the last three years, or just about $21,000 per year.

Recycling coordinator Johnny Jones noted that when taking a load of recyclable materials to Louisville, the facility barely broke even.

Apparently the county pays about $75,000 in salaries alone and although Marcum said he was not advocating discontinuing the service, but instead the county needed to make some adjustments.

The recycling center was initially started with the equipment to operate being funded primarily with grant money and most feel it is an asset for the county. However, most magistrates agree the recycling center is “not a money maker” for the county.

Marcum also repeated his earlier stance about how well the jailer and staff were doing at the jail, but did request jailer Tracey Thurman supply the court with a breakdown of various jail costs and try to find ways to cut spending.

Both Marcum and county judge Craig noted the county needed to find ways to tighten the county’s budget going forward, with the judge noting he has weekly meetings with all department heads and stressed that same sentiment.

There was again a discussion on the purchase of new patrol vehicles for the sheriff’s department, which EMS Director Scott noted has been on hold for several months.

Apparently the county now has a second option prior to pinning down exactly what type and how many vehicles to purchase.

Sheriff Vincent told the court the department could use either two Ford SUV type vehicles, which was apparently the initial plan, or for approximately $14,000 more, purchase three Dodge Chargers.

Scott said most of the funding for the vehicles, about $50,000, was coming from a USDA grant with the county’s share being approximately $34,000.

Sheriff Vincent suggested the county “pin some company down” as to the cost and time frame of when the vehicles, whichever ones are purchased, could actually be delivered.

Although no official action on the patrol vehicles was made last week, the court left open the possibility of having a special meeting in the future to make some type of set decision.

Finally, two residents from the Shipley community appeared before the court about an old road which was deeded back in the 1940s. The resident claimed the road is currently fenced in and some people can not get to their property.

After a brief discussion, county judge Craig directed the residents to take their information and concerns to the county attorney’s office and magistrate Lowhorn, who represents the area in question, gave them a copy of the county ordinance pertaining to the stipulations and requirements the county has in accepting a road into the county system.

The next regular meeting of Clinton Fiscal Court is scheduled for June 20 at 5 p.m. and is open to the general public.