After nearly a year without an Economic Development Director in the County, the McCreary County Fiscal Court may soon look at reviving the position.
During Thursday’s monthly meeting, Magistrate Jason Mann stated he believed it was time to start looking to hire a new Economic Development Director, a position that was abolished nearly a year ago.
Magistrate Duston Baird agreed, noting they could hire a new director or a consultant to help the County grow the economic base.
Judge Executive Doug Stephens noted he would do what the Magistrates asked of him and stated a committee could be formed to look at what duties and responsibilities the position would require if they chose to reinstate the post.
Magistrate Roger Phillips asked if the County had the funding available to pay for the position at this time.
“We need to look at what we can afford,” he said.
Finance Officer Randy Jones and Treasurer Mark Sewell stated, with the fiscal year almost over, there was no extra funding to pay for anything at this time.
When work begins on preparing the budget for the next year, which begins in July, they could try and include funding for a position at that time.
Judge Stephens stated once the Fiscal Court had a better understanding of the overall financial status of the next budget, he would reconvene the McCreary County Economic Development Council to look at how the County could proceed.
Last June the Fiscal Court abolished the Economic Development Director position, held at the time by Susan Stephens. Stephens was first hired in August of 2012, and was paid a base salary of approximately $38,000 per year.
EMS/911 Director Jimmy Barnett asked if the County could consider a restaurant tax to raise additional revenue.
Magistrate Phillips questioned if it would be possible, stating his understanding that since there was no incorporated city within the county, it would not be possible.
County Attorney Conley Chaney stated he would look in to the question, noting it should be possible since the state considers the county as a fifth-class city in most aspects. He used the recent alcohol election as an example, noting if the wet/dry vote had passed the state would allow alcohol sales in the County.
During the Citizen’s Participation portion of the meeting, Jailer Jessie Hatfield asked the Court to address a rumor he had heard concerning the possibility of a change in insurance coverage for County employees. The change would presumably lead to higher costs for employees and increased out of pocket expenses.
Judge Stephens assured Hatfield that he had no intention of changing insurance, noting how important it was for employees.
“I feel our insurance for our employees is a good plan,” he said. “We should not even consider doing anything to hurt that.”
He did note that insurance costs continue to rise, which could eventually create issues, but pledged to find ways to make it work.
“We will fight it as long as we can,” he said. “We have not been able to give raises to our employees for several years. I don’t want to do anything to lower morale and hurt their coverage.”
In other business; representatives from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet presented the Fiscal Court with a list of three roads recommended by the state for improvements through the Rural Secondary Road Program.
The County was allocated $1.2 million this year through the funding, of which, just over $600,000 will go toward maintenance of existing roads. The remaining $600,000, along with $300,000 of carryover from the past year will be spent on improvements to portions Mill Creek Road (KY 3257), Eagle-Sawyer Road (KY 896) and Vanover Ridge Road (KY 3254) – for a total of 8.517 miles, at a cost of approximately $650,000.
The remaining funding, totaling $241,000, will be placed into the “flex funds” and the Fiscal Court will be able to submit recommended projects for rural secondary roads or county road surfacing to the state for approval.
McCreary County Occupational Tax Administrator Stephanie Tucker informed the Court that there were 8 or 9 summonses issued to overdue account holders, and several more were coming in the next few weeks.
The next meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court is scheduled for Thursday, April 14 at 6:00 p.m.