By Greg Bird
The McCreary County Fiscal Court met for their final regular session of the current year, and the final time for three Magistrates and Judge Executive Doug Stephens.
Next month the court will have a new look as Bevo Greene takes office as Judge Executive along with new Magistrates Bill Hale, Bobby Strunk and Randy Maxwell. Roger Phillips, Magistrate from District 2, will be the only hold-over from the previous administration in the new year.
However, there will be one more meeting in line for the court as a special session has been called for today (Thursday, December, 20) before the end of term to name a replacement for Treasurer Mark Sewell, who has tendered his resignation from the post effective January 4.
Since the position of Treasurer is needed to oversee financial transactions for the County, the Fiscal Court will need to appoint someone to fill that position early to ensure there is ample time to train the new hire and guarantee no lapse in coverage. The Court is expected to appoint a person recommended by incoming Judge Executive Bevo Greene, as they would serve under his administration.
For the most part last Thursday’s meeting was brief as the court closed out the year with routine business.
The Fiscal Court approved the 2019 budgets for the County Clerk and McCreary Sheriff’s departments, as well as the annual order setting the maximum amounts both offices can spend on deputies, assistants and other employees.
They also Court approved a new loan through the Revolving Loan Program. Last year the Fiscal Court authorized the re-issuance of loans through the program under new guidelines.
In the past the loan program had been plagued by inconsistency in enforcement and management. Several unpaid loans had to be written off as uncollectable debts after poor management lead to missing paperwork and other issues. Other loan holders were given an opportunity to refinance existing loans to help them catch up on delinquent payments. A few loan holders did not take advantage of the new terms and the Fiscal Court is seeking legal remedies to collect.
Last December the court revitalized the program, but put several stipulations on new loans, including a $15,000 cap, 3 percent interest and 8-year terms. The new loan approved last week will be issued under those restrictions.
Prior to the meeting a public hearing was held to hear comments on the proposed grant application through the McCreary County Industrial Authority to seek $1 million from the Community Development Blok Grant.
If approved, the grant will allow the Authority to purchase knitting equipment and lease it to Outdoor Venture Corporation to use with their new expansion. The lease payments for the equipment will go back to the Authority, and the reclaimed money can then be put toward further economic development for the county.
The Fiscal Court unanimously approved a resolution supporting the application.
As the meeting wound down the tone turned reflective on the work of Judge Stephens, and outgoing Magistrates Jason Mann, O.L. Perry and Duston Baird.
McCreary County Ambulance Service/911 Director Jimmy Barnett took a few moments to thank the Fiscal Court for their support over the past seven and a half years that allowed him to build the program to the successful operation it is today.
“They stood behind me and EMS,” Barnett said. “These guys found a way.”
Barnett noted, through the backing of the Fiscal Court, EMA/911 has received nearly $1 million in federal grants, replaced all ambulances, re-built the old Ambulance building, added a new 911 facility with state of the art equipment and much more.
Magistrate Mann expressed his thanks to his fellow Fiscal Court members, as well as all the county employees and particularly his family for their support over his two terms in office.
“It has been a honor to serve with each and every one of you up here,” he said.
Fellow Magistrates Perry and Baird echoed Mann’s sentiments.
A swearing in ceremony for Judge-elect Greene and new county officers is scheduled for the first week of January.
The first regular session of the new-look Fiscal Court will be on Thursday, January 10 at 6:00 p.m.