Court approves $17 million budget

Posted June 23, 2021 at 11:25 am

Clinton County Fiscal Court held a longer than usual regular meeting last Thursday, June 17, with all court members present. One half of the total one hour and 10 minute meeting was held in executive session, on personnel matters prior to adjournment.

Among business items voted on was second reading of the just under $17.4 million 2021-22 fiscal year budget, awarding of road materials and other items.

The court first received the treasurer’s report and then on a motion by Magistrate Johnny Russell, unanimously approved the monthly report.

A total of four cash transfers were approved, with one being on a split 4-2 vote and the other three by unanimous votes. All transfers totaled $136,000.

The court approved a $20,000 transfer from the occupational checking account to the jail account by a 4-2 margin, with magistrates Mickey Riddle and Ray Marcum voting no. magistrates Terry Buster, Jerry Lowhorn, Gary Ferguson and Russell all voted yes.

The three transfers that received unanimous approval were $5,000 each from the occupational checking account to the general account and LGEA account and $106,000 from the federal checking account to the ambulance account.

Emergency Management director Lucas Abner explained the transfer to the ambulance account was federal fund that helped purchase a new ambulance, which was to have been picked up and brought to Clinton County last Friday.

The court then voted to pay claims and bills on a 5-1 vote with Riddle voting no, citing his reason for the no vote being that the jail was $50,000 over budget in payroll.

Bids on road materials and culverts were then opened, read aloud and awarded. There were three different bidders, all local, who submitted proposals.

Gaddie Shamrock was the sole bidder on chip seal and hot mix, and was awarded the bid on motions by magistrates Riddle and Lowhorn, respectively.

Albany Building Center was also the lone bidder on culverts and was unanimously awarded the bid on a motion by magistrate Ferguson.

Two bids were submitted on various size crushed stone, from Benny Brown Trucking and Gaddie Shamrock. As has been the case for several years with both companies being local, the court, on a motion by Ferguson, awarded each the bid and will purchase stone from each company on an as needed basis.

On a motion by magistrate Riddle, the court approved second reading of a budget amendment to include funds received from the sale of surplus county equipment.

The court then discussed, and eventually approved, second and final reading of the 2021-22 fiscal year budget totaling $7,388,372.62…but not before some questions were raised by a local resident pertaining to the county’s budget.

After Clinton County Judge/Executive Ricky Craig asked for a motion on a second reading, the resident asked if the people could ask questions of the court, noting this was the first time he had attended the meeting.

When the judge asked what questions the resident had, he said he had questions about 37 percent of the allotted budget going to contingent appropriations, referring to the just under $2 million allotted under the line item “American Rescue Fund.”

Judge Craig explained it was the money all counties in the state receive from federal funding, proportionate to the size of each county.

The judge noted that primarily the funds were set aside for infrastructure such as water, sewer and broadband. However, he also told the resident that rules and specifications are changed almost weekly and the county keeps in touch with federal officials on the AMF via Zoom meetings almost weekly.

The resident, who noted that in some way tax payers would be paying for the funds under the program, called it a “slush fund,” saying $2 million, or 37 percent of the total budget seems like a big number.

Craig again said the federal funds were being given to every county and told the resident the local funds “will be spent wisely.”

Clinton County Treasurer Cindy Thrasher also noted that the local funding amount will not come in one lump sum, but in two phases.

The judge reiterated the money can only be used for what the federal government will allow it to be used for.

Craig then called for a vote on second reading of the budget, which was made by magistrate Lowhorn and passed by unanimous vote.

(A complete summary of the county’s new budget can be viewed in this week’s Clinton County News.)

The court, also on a motion by Lowhorn, unanimously approved the 2020 Sheriff’s Tax Settlement and payment of the $400 audit fee to do the work.

Assistant County Attorney Gary Little then briefly explained to the court about the state of Kentucky’s opioid settlement suit, noting there are guidelines on how settlement money could be used.

“I don’t know what counties have opted in or out of the settlement,” said Little. However, he did say the settlement period would be over an 18 year time frame and could help counties mitigate some expenses they have in dealing with the opioid crisis.

On a motion by Magistrate Ferguson, the court voted 6-0 to participate in the settlement program and authorize the judge to sign the “Kentucky Opioid Settlement Memorandum of Understanding.”

Following to department head reports by EM Director Abner and Clinton County Jailer Tracy Thurman, the court entered into a 35 minute executive session on personnel, with Abner joining briefly in the closed session portion.

Upon returning to open session, judge Craig announced no action had been taken and no action was taken following the court’s return to open session.

The judge also reminded court members of the Judicial Center Committee’s public hearing on site selection for the proposed Clinton County Justice Center, which will be held next Tuesday, June 29 and will be open to the public.

Craig noted no action would be taken and the meeting was primarily for AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts) to gather plats from residents who may have property in the city limits available for sale and give out general information.

Craig noted it was one step in the overall process of selecting an eventual site for the $17 million facility.

The judge also wished all fathers a Happy Father’s Day (this past Sunday) prior to the lengthy session being adjourned.

The next regular meeting of Clinton Fiscal Court is scheduled for Thursday, July 15, at 5 p.m. and will be held in the upstairs courtroom of the courthouse. The meeting will be open to the general public.