By Greg Bird
At last week’s Fiscal Court meeting McCreary County Judge Executive Jimmie “Bevo” Greene took the first steps toward resolving a source of conflict between the county and Poff Carting, the county’s garbage service provider, by creating a Code Enforcement Officer position.
With the possibility of a potential lawsuit hanging over the Fiscal Court for failing to live up to the terms of the contract signed in 2017, Greene felt the Court should create the position, but stopped short of using the officer to go after citizens in non-compliance with the garbage ordinance and other county ordinances.
Instead, the enforcement officer position will be focused on cleaning up illegal dump sites in the county.
The Court voted 4-1, with Magistrate Roger Phillips being the only dissenting vote, to create the Code Enforcement position, and to add those duties to Stephen McKinney – the current Emergency Management Director, with an additional salary of $5,000 per year. McKinney’s current salary is about $27,000 per year, but about half of the salary is funded by state and federal programs.
Judge Greene said he planned for the officer to focus primarily on illegal dump sites, and working with the County Attorney to prosecute those caught disposing of trash illegally and creating unsightly dumps in McCreary County.
It was noted that McKinney is already investigating some cases of illegal dumps, including one with the Environmental Protection Agency.
McKinney will also work some toward encouraging citizens to sign up for garbage service, as is required by County ordinance, but Judge Greene emphasized that he is planning on taking a “soft approach” toward the issue.
The Judge stated he did not anticipate issuing any fines for non-compliance, but would rely on using polite, non-threatening phone calls and letters to increase participation.
The hope is if participation increases, the County will be entitled to franchise fees from Poff Carting, which would be used to provide assistance to low-income and disabled residents in paying for service. The funds would also support additional free bulk item dump days, such as the one held the previous weekend. Under the contract Poff Carting would agree to a total of 10 such days a year.
Judge Greene stated there are about 3,792 residents currently signed up for service. If that number reached 4,200, Poff Carting would pay about $84,000 in franchise fees back to the County.
Before voting in favor of creating the position, Magistrate Bobby Strunk asked for assurance that if the Court voted to create the position that there would be criminal prosecution on illegal dumpers.
Both Judge Greene and County Attorney Austin Price said that they wanted to be aggressive on ridding the County of illegal dumps.
“We have to get this garbage under control,” Greene said.
Magistrate Phillips asked if the extra duties assigned to McKinney would lead to the need to hire additional help to perform some of the work McKinney does for the County.
Judge Greene stated that there would eventually be a need to hire some part time help, which would cost about $10,000 per year.
The Court also approved naming Deputy Judge Nathan Nevels Jr. as the County’s Economic Development Director, with an annual salary of $15,000 per year in addition to his existing salary for Deputy Judge of $30,000 annually. The Fiscal Court would pay the first year of the salary, with the Industrial Authority Board to pick up the cost of the salary from next year onward.
Judge Greene noted the budget has about $38,000 set aside for the position, so it would not be much of an additional burden on County finances.
Friday Judge Greene expanded on the proposal, noting the Industrial Authority had requested the position, as they needed someone to act as a full-time advocate for the Board in seeking new business to locate to the county and obtain grant funding for future development.
He noted Nevels has already been working in some capacity for the position: as well as receiving training on grant writing. Nevels will also receive training for economic development as opportunities arise.
The Court voted 5-0 to approve the move.
In other business: the Court heard from Pam Duncan of the McCreary County Animal Protection League.
Duncan brought forth a proposal to take over as the county shelter when the current contract with the Knox/Whitley shelter expires at the end of June.
The proposed contract would pay the APL $40,000 annually to serve as the shelter, the same amount the Fiscal Court currently pays Knox/Whitley.
Duncan said the local shelter would act as a no-kill facility, and the group already has ties with several rescue organizations to find homes for abandoned dogs. The shelter would be available 24-hours a day to take in animals collected by the Animal Control Officer. It would also be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. six days a week for the public.
Duncan explained the APL has worked to improve and expand the facility, and would be able to handle several hundred animals.
Judge Greene said the Fiscal Court would look over the proposed contract, and would most likely vote on it at next month’s meeting.
During his regular update portion of the meeting, Judge Greene noted he has been in talks with jailers from two counties about the possibility of housing local inmates closer to home. He stated he hoped to bring a new proposal to the Fiscal Court next month.
Greene also noted his office had reviewed insurance coverage for the old McCreary County Detention Center, which has been vacant and unused for several years. Green said he was able to reduce the coverage from about $5,000 per year down to $1,000 annually.
The next regular scheduled meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court will be on Thursday, May 9 at 6:00 p.m.