By Eugenia Jones
For McCreary County Emergency Medical Service (EMS,) the addition of two more transport ambulances comes with the added responsibility of being the lifeline for McCreary County’s financial well-being.
“The budget was built around and based on EMS making more transport runs this year and bringing in more revenue,” Magistrate Roger Phillips stated. “If EMS doesn’t come up with more runs, we are going to be short on money. We have to give EMS the resources to make this work.”
Phillips made his remarks during the Court’s discussion about the purchase of additional ambulances. Additionally, Phillips asked County Treasurer Geraldine Laxton to confirm the availability of county funds for the purchase. Laxton confirmed the availability of funds.
Phillips noted $750,000 carried over (transferred earlier in the July meeting) from last year to this year’s budget will be zeroed out by $250,000 allotted for across the board pay increases for county employees and $500,000 budgeted for extra resurfacing (blacktop.)
“That’s not going to leave much money to carry over for next year,” Phillips remarked.
(Earlier this year, Phillips voted twice against the 2021/22 budget out of his concern that the $1.00 per hour across the board raises for all county employees included within the budget are unsustainable. Phillips favored smaller pay increases or a delay in raises.)
After discussion, Phillips made the motion (seconded by Strunk) to purchase two additional transport ambulances. The Court voted unanimously to purchase the two ambulances at a total cost of approximately $270,000. $170,000 of the total cost comes from the County’s General Fund (through extra Medicaid reimbursements received last month by EMS) and $100,000 from the EMS budget.
“I feel like the only chance we’ve got to maintain the budget is by EMS doing more non-emergency transport runs and bringing in more money to the County,” Phillips said regarding his motion and the Court’s vote. “If EMS non-emergency runs don’t increase, we are going to quickly go broke. If we have the money now to purchase, we have got to take the chance and get these ambulances.”
In additional business, the Court heard a presentation from Bill Jones with Don Franklin, Somerset Dodge regarding the company’s vehicle fleet leasing program available to government agencies. The leasing program is offered for county vehicles such as emergency management, law enforcement, etc. Magistrate Bill Hale made a motion to table signing new lease agreements for two vehicles for thirty days.
“We need time to study this,” Hale said. “There are questions we need to answer.”
The Court voted unanimously to table making a decision on signing the leasing agreements.
Deputy Judge Nathan Nevels addressed the Court concerning an upcoming tourism event in the County.
According to Nevels, a group of approximately twenty-five drivers with their exotic and muscle cars will arrive at the Dairy Bar in McCreary County on Friday, July 30 at approximately 12:30. The Dairy Bar will remain open to regular customers for fish day, but the front parking lot will be closed to allow display of the cars. The drivers and their cars will arrive via the Copperhead Trail from Williamsburg, KY. Locals are welcome to come and view the cars and meet the drivers. Individuals can bid on the opportunity to ride in one of the cars with proceeds from the auction going to local food pantries. For more information, visit the McCreary County Tourism Facebook page.
In other business, the Fiscal Court:
-Approved 1st reading of Budget Amendment #1 (carry-over of $750,000 from last year’s budget to this year’s budget.)
-Approved lease agreement with Air and Space Education Institute, Inc.
-Approved current revolving loan application, pending IDA Board committee approval.
-Approved appointment of Bill Hale to McCreary County Park Board. Hale fills the position left by Roger Phillips.
-Approved appointment of Roger Phillips to McCreary County Airport Board. Phillips fills position left by Bill Hale.
-Approved $150,000 from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to the McCreary County Water District to repair a six inch line under Yamacraw Bridge. The line services over 400 customers, three water towers, and four pump stations. It has already been determined ARPA funds can be spent on water and broadband internet. Final spending guidelines for ARPA funds are expected July 16.
-Heard Magistrate Roger Phillips share a request from West McCreary County Volunteer Fire Department for federal ARPA funds to purchase turn out gear. Judge Greene and the Court seemed agreeable if final spending guidelines for ARPA funds (expected July 16) allow such a purchase.
-Heard Magistrate Bobby Strunk request a bid process to complete construction of a handicapped accessible fishing pier at the Reservoir. Strunk received a $10,000 grant to complete the project.
-Heard reports and updates from various department heads.
The McCreary County Fiscal Court meets in regular session on the second Thursday of each month at 6:00 at the McCreary County Courthouse.