Outside of the Jail, there were plenty of discussions at the Fiscal Court meeting Thursday night. Following is a recap of the other agenda items that evening.
The Court approved the first reading of a new ordinance that would add additional fees to court cases, modeled after a similar ordinance in Pulaski County.
The ordinance would add additional fees of $25 to call civil and criminal cases in Circuit Court, as well as $25 being added to filing fees for cases appealed from Circuit Court.
Additionally, $10 would be added to court costs for all traffic offenses, and to filing fees in small claims court and civil cases in District Court. A $20 fee would also be added to court costs a defendant would be required to pay in misdemeanor cases in District Court.
All fees would be collected by the Circuit Court Clerk, which would then be forwarded to the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet for later transfer to the McCreary County Fiscal Court.
The fees are justified through Kentucky Revised Statutes 23A.220, 23A.206, 24A.176 and 24A.185, which allows Fiscal Courts to impose the additional fees for the purpose of paying expenses for “courthouses, bonds related to them and administration expenses for the Circuit Court. The statute states all funds “shall be used for the payment of costs associated with the housing or transporting of prisoners.”
The ordinance does not include fees, such as reimbursement for transport and housing costs, and presumably those will have to be addressed in another ordinance at a future date.
The Court also approved an agreement between the Fiscal Court and McCreary County Sheriff’s Department that will allow paid deputies who are sent to a 22-week training to be able to retain their salary and benefits during the nearly 6-month course.
Magistrate Phillips questioned some aspects of the agreement, noting the length of service a deputy must maintain after receiving the training.
County Attorney Conley Chaney and Sheriff Randy Waters explained the length would be through the term of office of the Sheriff.
Phillips also asked if there were no citizens in the county that already had the training, which would eliminate the need to send new recruits to the training.
“We’ve tried,” Sheriff Waters said, stating the few that had the training were now employed by the school system.
“That would be a better choice for me and everybody else.”
Under the contract, if a deputy undergoes the 22 week program at the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training, he or she would still receive their salary and benefits throughout the training, but will be responsible for repaying all costs, including salary if they voluntarily leave their position with the Sheriff’s Department prior to the end of the term.
Colonel Sheryl Owens addressed the Fiscal Court asking them to consider a better way to memorialize McCreary County native and World War II Medal of Honor recipient Wilburn K. Ross.
Colonel Owens noted that Ross’ current place of residence, DuPont Washington, has erected a statue to commemorate the Veteran, while his birthplace has only a short section of highway named in his honor.
“Private Ross should not be forgotten,” Colonel Owens concluded.
After the Court voted to approve the 2016-17 Tourism budget, Susie Strunk Thompson and the McCreary County Tourist Commission asked the Court for permission to advertise for a part-time Tourism Director, with the Commission members to conduct interviews.
The Court passed the motion with the stipulation that the salary be based on experience, and will not exceed the previous salary set for the position, which would be approximately $16,000 per year according to the salary schedule.
In the Department Head update, Magistrate Philips asked Occupational Tax Director Stephanie Tucker for information on how many summonses had been issued for past due tax offenders.
Tucker stated collections on already issued summonses had brought in about $10,000 so far, and that an additional 16 summonses had been issued this month.
During the other business portion of the meeting Magistrate Phillips questioned why a bill for the McCreary County Airport had yet to be paid.
Judge Stephens responded there was an oversight where he had not obtained legal permission from the Fiscal Court to release funds from the account. The Judge asked for a motion to approve the permission and promised the bill would be paid as soon as possible.
When the Court was asked to give permission to pay the bills, Magistrate Jason Mann forwarded the motion, but no second was immediately forthcoming.
After about a minute of silence, citizen Liz Ridner asked: “Do you have the money to pay the bills?”
“We’re told we do,” Magistrate Phillips responded.
Judge Stephens admitted that the County did not have the funding to pay all the bills right away, but was hoping funds come in over the next couple of weeks to enable them to be paid.
He then reminded the Court that if the motion was not passed that night, it would be another month before it could be brought back, causing a month-long delay in paying all of the bills.
Citizen Susie Strunk Thompson asked Magistrate Phillips what prevented him from coming in every day and asking how much money was in the General Fund.
Phillips answered that there is nothing to prevent that, but his authority as Magistrate ends at the end of the meeting, and outside of that he is a citizen like everyone else.
Judge Stephens noted that anyone can come in at any time and ask for a balance, and he does not try to tell anyone there is money available when there is not.
Thompson suggested the magistrates need to do due diligence for the people that elected them and learn about the daily finances.
“You should be working together as a team, as opposed to working against each other as it appears at this point,” she said.
After being told by Finance Officer Randy Jones that if the Court did not vote to pay the bills, the bills for the road department and other funds, where money is available, will also go unpaid for the month, Magistrate Baird seconded the motion. The Court ultimately voted to pay the bills, with Magistrate Phillips voting against.
The Court adjourned after a 35-miunte executive session to discuss a personnel matter. When returning back in to normal session Judge Stephens announced the reinstatement of Road Department employee Kim Coffey as of July 1.
The next regular scheduled meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court will be on August 11 at 6:00 p.m.