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Fiscal Court gets first look at budget

By Greg Bird

The McCreary County Fiscal Court was presented a first draft of the 2018-19 budget and salary schedule at Thursday’s Fiscal Court meeting.
Based primarily on last year’s budget, Judge Executive Doug Stephens said some minor adjustments have been made in certain areas, such as pay increases for all County employees authorized this past year, an increase in the cost of benefits and the loss of Secure Rural Schools funding.
The projected budget for the coming fiscal year totals $8.026 million, about $126,000 over last year. According to the salary schedule nearly half of the budget is related to salaries or benefits as $3.839 million has been allocated for wages and related expenses.
Included in the General Fund is $48,095 for the McCreary County Extension Service, which has been placed if the Fiscal Court is successful in their attempt to eliminate the Extension Board and take over funding for operations as they had in the past.
With the additions to the General Fund the total allocations to the fund have increased to $4.1 million, up from $2.8 million last year. The Road Fund has decreased by about $150,000, reflecting the loss of the U.S. Forest Service Secure Rural Schools Funding. The Jail Fund increased from $1.132 million to $1.29 million, an increase of about $160,000. The Grant Fund increased by more than $130,000 to $304,000, mainly due to an expected increase in Federal USDA Economic Development Grants.
There are a few minor changes to the budget when compared to previous years, however. At the suggestion of the Department for Local Government, the current budget eliminates several fund categories and rolls them in to the General Fund. Fund categories such as the Occupational Tax, solid waste, parks and recreation, airport, 911, and economic development are no longer separate entities, but are contained in the General Fund.
Judge Stephens stated the funding for those categories is unaffected by the move, but it eliminates the need to do transfers between the funds when money is moved (from the OC Tax for example), which the DLG and auditors have cautioned against.
The budget has been sent to Frankfort for approval. Little discussion was held on the budget, as it requires two readings to become official, and it was approved with a unanimous vote. The Magistrates will have until next month to review the document and make recommendations for changes.
The Budget must be finalized and approved before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.


In other Fiscal Court actions Thursday:

The Court authorized declaring 18.04 acres of land off Robert Neal Road in Stearns as surplus and advertising for bids on the property. The land, near the water treatment plant and old landfill, includes a public cemetery established by Judge Executive Blaine Stephens several years ago. No one was ever buried in the cemetery and the land has otherwise been unused.
A mutual aid agreement between the County and the McCreary County School District was approved for the use of equipment and machinery in an effort to cut costs.
Magistrate Roger Phillips asked Occupational Tax Administrator Stephanie Tucker for an update on outstanding tax accounts being sent to a collection agency. Tucker stated two accounts have been submitted and the process was being reviewed by the agency’s legal staff to determine if it was legal to pursue collections. Once approved, Tucker said, she had an additional 76 accounts to submit.
Greg Burdine was appointed to the McCreary County Tourism and Convention Commission, to replace Magistrate Jason Mann who will remain on the board as a non-voting member.
The annual notice to advertise for bids and services was approved and appears on page B8 in this week’s Voice.
During the citizen participation portion of the meeting several individuals voiced their concerns over recent actions by the Fiscal Court to eliminate the Extension Board, and feel doing so threatens the loss of the Extension.
Magistrate Roger Phillips reiterated the move to shut the Board down comes after they imposed a tax that nearly quadrupled their operating budget and he intends to keep the Extension Service and included funding for the operations in the budget for next year.
Judge Stephens encouraged the citizens to attend the public hearing on the issue scheduled for Thursday, May 24 at 6:00 p.m. at the Courthouse.
The next regular session of the McCreary County Fiscal Court will be on Thursday, June 14 at 6:00 p.m.

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