The McCreary County Fiscal Court approved the first reading of the proposed 2017-18 budget Thursday night.
The $7.9 million total budget is about $427,000 more than last year’s budget, reflecting the additional revenue from the increased Occupational Tax rate and the elimination of payments toward the 10 Commandments settlement. But for the most part, remains “basically the same,” according to Judge Executive Doug Stephens.
Stephens noted overall payroll had been increased due to slightly higher insurance and benefit costs, but the majority of the line item costs had been budgeted at the same amount as the previous year.
Notable changes include an estimated increase in Jail Fund spending of about $318,000, mostly reflected in a “more realistic” outlook for prisoner housing costs.
Last year only $600,000 was allocated for housing, but in the proposed budget that amount is listed as $827,000 – an increase of $227,000.
Road Fund revenues see an increase of about $250,000 for the year, though that number may decrease with the very strong possibility that the Secure Rural Schools Act may finally be eliminated at the federal level, which would mean a loss of about $300,000 locally.
Judge Stephens noted there is a possibility that funding could be restored through congressional action as the loss of the program affects several states.
Funding for the Park Board will see a decrease of about $200,000, but that reflects the Weddle funding that was withheld until last year. The Park Board has used that funding to upgrade and purchase new equipment for the park.
The Local Government Economic Assistance Fund also sees an overall reduction of about $130,000, mainly due to a lower surplus and an expected decrease in coal and mineral tax receipts. The LGEA Fund is mainly used to purchase and lease equipment for the Road Department and does not affect the General Fund.
Little discussion was held on the budget, as it requires two readings to become official. The Magistrates will have until next month to review the document and make recommendations for changes.
The budget will now be sent to Frankfort for review. After approval, Magistrates have until the second reading to enact any changes.
In addition to the budget, the Court approved the 2017-18 salary schedule. Judge Stephens stated most salaries remain the same, except for those with constitutionally mandated raises (some elected officials). Insurance and benefit costs did increase slightly.
In a related move the Court approved to solicit bids for goods and services for the upcoming fiscal year. Included in the solicitation is a request for a jail feasibility study, which was first proposed by Magistrate Roger Phillips.
In other action Thursday night:
Magistrate Phillips called for an amendment to the County’s Business License ordinance, asking for a clause granting an exemption to programs or activities conducted or sponsored by the County to be removed.
He also asked to change the effective dates for the new law to run from July 1 through June 30. The previous wording had a January 1 start date, but businesses would still be required to purchase a license by July.
Both motions were successful and passed with a 5-0 vote. The ordinance will be amended and approved with a second reading next month.
Magistrate Phillips also called for the Court to form a committee to review the Revolving Loan Program as a means to reopen the program. Phillips stated there was about $116,000 in the fund. The goal would be to renew the program, but limit the lending amounts to about $10,000 per application.
Similarly, Phillips asked to form a committee to begin the process of either negotiating a new agreement with Scott Solid Waste to handle garbage in the County, or to call for bids for the service by August.
Phillips noted the extension with Scott Solid Waste expires in December, and he didn’t want to wait too long before a new deal is in place.
Magistrate Duston Baird asked for permission for Sheriff Randy Waters to have a key to the gates at the McCreary County Park in order to patrol the grounds and secure the facility at a later hour. The Park would now be open until around midnight.
The Court approved the hiring of four part time personnel for various departments and appointed four individuals to various boards.
The McCreary County Fiscal Court will meet again in regular session on Thursday, June 8 at 6:00 p.m.