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Fiscal Court trying to pay the bills

While the majority of Thursday’s Fiscal Court meeting was devoted to the McCreary County Airport, one comment from a Magistrate prompted further investigation.

During the discussion over the airport and the lack of money available to fund it, Magistrate Roger Phillips noted the County was two months behind (January and February) on paying the jail bill to the Wayne County Detention Center.

After the meeting Judge Stephens confirmed the late payment, but explained the plan was to wait until the April Occupational Tax receipts came in until paying the detention center.

“Right now we are probably the best we have ever been on paying our bills,” he said.

“We are paid up on everything else, and the checks to Wayne County will be sent out this week,” Stephens said.

“We usually are about a month behind the way the bill arrives,” he added. “We waited on the last one until the latest Occupational Tax receipts came in.”

He noted the jail bill typically arrives within the first 10 days of the month, and it takes a few days to go over the invoice to ensure the total is accurate.

Stephens said his Executive Secretary Peggy Lawson cross checks the invoice with the arrest reports and transport logs turned in to the Judge’s Office. Typically, he said, one or two charges appear that are not McCreary County prisoners, and the bill will have to be corrected.

That has to be done before it is sent to the Fiscal Court to approve the payment.

At the April Fiscal Court meeting the Magistrates approved paying two bills to Wayne County, January and February, totaling $53,500. Last week the Court approved paying the March bill in the amount of $34,722.

Stephens said Wayne County does not charge the County interest or fees, and is aware of the County’s financial situation.

“We have a pretty good working relationship with the Wayne County Jail,” Stephens said.

In other Fiscal Court actions Thursday, the Court approved the first reading of the proposed 2015-16 budget.

Deputy Judge Andrew Powell noted the budget reflects last year’s budget in many aspects, since salaries and incomes are expected to remain mostly consistent. He noted grants for the steam locomotive project and Drug Court were expiring, but PILT payments may be returning, although possibly to a lesser degree than before.

“The bottom line is it is still really tight,” Judge Stephens said.

Magistrates will have the next month to review the budget and suggest any changes before a second reading in June.

A six percent increase in expected insurance costs were factored in to the budget as well, which works out to approximately $18 per month per employee.

Judge Stephens recommended keeping the same coverage as before as an incentive to employees.

“At a time when we can’t afford to give raises, to give them less insurance is a bit of a slap,” he said.

The increase was less than expected.

During the citizen participation portion of the meeting, Bevo Greene again brought up the termination of his daughter, Candace, from the Finance Officer position last month.

Green asked if the Fiscal Court was following the administrative code when it came to the dismissal, noting the Court was supposed to vote on hiring and dismissals.

Magistrate Phillips noted the Finance Officer position  was part of the Judge Executive’s staff, and typically not subject to Court review.

Judge Stephens noted his hiring of Randy Jones as Finance Officer and Deputy Judge Executive represented a $10,000 saving over the salaries paid last year.

A brief discussion was held on the possibility of drafting an ordinance that would require property owners to clean up or remove burnt buildings from their properties if they are deemed a safety issue.

The next meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court will be on June 11 at 6:00 p.m. in the Fiscal Court room.

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