By: Greg Bird
The first Fiscal Court meeting for new Magistrates Leroy “O.L” Perry and Duston Baird was relatively uneventful as the Court took on mainly some routine matters last week.
Magistrate Jason Mann was unable to attend the monthly meetings due to medical issues Judge Executive Stephens explained, but with three magistrates in attendance the meeting went on as scheduled.
Near the close of the meeting Judge Stephens asked the various department heads to update the Court on what was happening in their departments.
Economic Development Director Susan Stephens presented a brief update on the proposed plant announced in November by the Mett Group.
Stephens said plans were still moving forward, but the company is negotiating with a new energy company to sell electricity after negotiations fell through with another company.
She added the company expects to get approval on their application for Energy Independence Act tax incentives later this month, and she believed the company would be able to make another announcement in March regarding an estimated start time for construction on the project.
Stephens also stated her office had received several inquiries from outside businesses regarding the spec building and industrial park located in the county.
Occupational Tax Administrator Stephanie Tucker updated the Court on some positive news concerning the tax.
Tucker said, as of late last month, federal employees at the USP McCreary are now able to sign up for automatic payroll deduction. Of about 301 employees, Tucker added, only about 12 have not signed up for the deduction.
She noted that there are about 200 contract employees at the prison, and she is working on getting their accounts updated.
Tucker said she is working to set up past due account holders on payment plans, and is prepared to take legal action against those who do not pay, or don’t follow through on the payment plans.
Speaking about the proposed business license ordinance Magistrate Roger Phillips questioned Tucker on her database of businesses in the county. Tucker said she has records for approximately 750 businesses, but many of them may be inactive or closed.
Tucker did say that she believed the proposed ordinance is “redundant” due to the fact all the information required by the ordinance is already contained in the original Occupational Tax ordinance, and businesses already have to register with her office.
In a housekeeping measure, Judge Executive Stephens asked the Court to approve the re-appointment of Road Supervisor Roger Moore, Emergency Management Director Rudy Young and Part Time Deputy Judge Executive Andrew Powell to new four-year terms.
Magistrate Perry forwarded the motion to approve the appointments, which was seconded by Phillips. Magistrate Baird asked how the positions were filled, and was informed those jobs serve at the discretion of the Judge Executive.
Magistrate Phillips noted the Judge Executive could override their vote, but suggested appointing the three men to only two-year terms as a means to possibly improve performance.
“I think they will do a better job of you put their feet to the fire,” he said.
Magistrate Perry agreed and rescinded the original motion, and submitted a new one, calling for a two-year term for each position.
Judge Stephens said he did not believe the action was necessary, but did not override the Fiscal Court’s decision.
After concluding other routine business, such as appointments and hires, Magistrate Baird asked Judge Stephens about the proposed raises for various departments.
Judge Stephens stated the county’s finances are not able to support raises at this point without raising taxes, a move neither he nor the magistrates support.
The next regular scheduled meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court will be on Thursday, February 12 at 7:00 p.m.