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Fiscal Court abolishes Economic Development

The McCreary County Fiscal Court took action to eliminate McCreary County Economic Development Director Susan Stephens’ position during their June meeting last Thursday evening.

Near the end of the meeting Magistrate Duston Baird requested to enter into executive session in order to discuss a personnel issue.

After the 20-minute executive session, Magistrate Baird made a motion to abolish the position, with an effective date of June 30.

Magistrate O.L. Perry seconded the motion and the measure passed with only Judge Executive Doug Stephens voting against the move, with no discussion of the move occurring in open court.

Baird did not wish to comment on the reasoning behind his motion following the meeting, but Stephens has come under increased scrutiny by the Fiscal Court in recent months for a perceived lack of progress on bringing jobs to the county and management of the county’s loan program.

Stephens was in her office Tuesday, but stated she did not wish to comment on the dissolution of her position. Instead, she was focused on compiling information to present to Judge Stephens next week, to update him on projects she had in the works.

She offered no public comment on those projects, including the proposed waste-to-energy plant announced last year.

Stephens was hired in August 2012, filling a post that had been vacant for nearly two years.

In January 2011, the first month of Judge Executive Stephens’ term, the Fiscal Court abolished the position, then held by Tim Duncan.

The Court re-established the position the next month, but did not immediately hire someone to the post.

According to the County Salary Schedule, Stephens was paid a base annual salary of $38,042 with the addition of benefits bringing the total to $54,921. Presumably that funding will be returned to the General Fund to be used for other purposes, unless the position is re-created and filled in the near future.

In other Fiscal Court actions Thursday: The Court approved the hire of four individuals to work as seasonal part-time general laborers. The individuals will be paid $7.40 per hour(up to 24 hours each week for only nine months), with the funding from the Secure Roads and Rural Schools Funding.

Magistrate Roger Phillips made the motion to approve the hire with the stipulation that their first duties cleaning up the McCreary County Detention Center.

In the wake of the McCreary County Airport Board imposing a tax this past week, Magistrate Phillips made an appeal to other local special taxing districts to either lower their rates or keep them the same this year to ease the burden on local tax payers.

Phillips also noted the Fiscal Court take a more active role in appointing Board members to the various boards that control tax rates.

“We need to start looking more closely when taking the boards’ recommendations,” he said. “We don’t need to take their recommendations.”

Judge Stephens agreed, noting the need to make the boards accountable to the Fiscal Court.

The Court also approved the establishment of the McCreary County Extension District Board, appointing James Foster, Pam Gibson, Jeff G. Kidd, Karen Tucker, Page Bryant and Schyler Jones to the Board.

Judge Stephens stated the board would oversee the annual budget provided by the Fiscal Court for the Extension Service, and would eliminate the need for his office to deal with many of the day-to-day needs of the office.

A special called meeting of the Fiscal Court is expected for June 26 at 4:00 p.m. to conduct a second reading on the County Budget.

The next regular scheduled meeting will be at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 9 in the Fiscal Court Room.

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