Fiscal court passes budget

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

SALYERSVILLE - The Magoffin County Fiscal Court met in a special-called meeting last Thursday, passing the budget and discussing the status of the judge executive office.

The Court agreed to pay Kentucky Natural Lands Trust $3,260.25 in regards to the industrial site. The fiscal court is under a memorandum of agreement with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, which establishes the Endangered Species Act, and they required the fee. Magoffin County Judge Executive Dr. Charles Hardin explained that they believed the industrial park would cost roughly $500,000, but this is the first required fee they’ve had to pay.

The Court approved to pay up to $4,000 for constituents concerning the tire grant.

The Magoffin County Fiscal Court passed a resolution in conjunction with the City of Salyersville - Salyersville Water Works to apply for the 2015 Community Development Block Grant - Public Facilities Program for $1 million to construct a waste collection system, aimed at providing for the health and wellbeing of the community’s citizens. Within the resolution they also agreed to provide matching funds from LGEDF appropriations.

In  another project, the Court passed a resolution authorizing the judge executive to apply for and enter into an agreement with the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security (KOHS) regarding funds to for sirens at South Magoffin and North Magoffin Volunteer Fire Department, as well as turnout gear for District 3 Fire Department. 

In support of Representative Greg Stumbo’s proposal to extend the Mountain Parkway to Beckley, West Virginia, the Court approved a resolution stating that by extending the Parkway, would “open up the heart of Appalachia to the Bluegrass Region and beyond,” as well as improve industry and tourism for the entire region.

Magoffin County Court Clerk Renee Arnett Shepherd read a resolution, signed by Hardin honoring the life and legacy of long-time Magoffin County Court Clerk Howard Hensley, who passed away Monday, June 22 at the age of 85. To read the full resolution, see page A1.

Hardin reappointed Machelle Hardin to the Magoffin County Water Board.

The Court discussed the county’s liability when the district court assigns community service. When someone is assigned community service through the county and the fiscal court accepts, they must provide a safe work environment to not be liable. The workers are not covered through workers comp insurance, however they will have no liability as long as they provide a safe work environment.

Solid Waste Coordinator Frankie Collett presented the Court with delinquent trash customers. County Attorney Greg Allen advised that they do not have the right to pursue criminal action, however he told her she could come to him and swear out warrants, which he could present to the court system. Similarly, the fiscal court members could also sign as individuals, however, Allen explained he would need to have someone, such as Collett, who could testify in court.

In Thursday’s meeting, Hardin addressed the status of the judge executive office. He explained that he is currently occupying the office until the 31st day after the order, when it goes into effect, then the office will be deemed vacant and the clerk will alert the governor, who will have 30 days to appoint someone.

“That’s assuming no appeals,” Hardin said. “And I can’t tell if you I will or won’t, but my attorneys are looking at all options, including going as far as the Supreme Court.” 

On Tuesday, June 30, Hardin’s attorney , James Deckard, notified the Independent that he was going to petition for a rehearing by the Court of Appeals, motioning that all Court of Appeals judges, not just a panel, review the case, appealing Circuit Judge John David Preston’s ruling to throw out the 2014 Magoffin County Judge Executive election and deem the office vacant. To read more about the petition for a rehearing, see page A1.

Hardin said, “I am judge, but my question I have is why the other magistrates didn’t show up [to the last-called meeting].”

Magistrate Matthew Wireman reiterated what he stated in the last issue of the paper, that he had talked to attorneys and, based on advice given, had made the decision to not attend. Among those attorneys, he had talked to Greg Allen, however, at the time he was unsure whether he would attend, so Allen didn’t say anything at the meeting. 

The Court held the second reading of the budget, and though they disagreed on aspects, agreed to pass it, with a couple changes.

Wireman asked Hardin how a roughly $187,000 increase in the budget from last year’s budget for the Magoffin County Sheriff’s Office was justified and proposed cuts to the sheriff’s budget to compensate for the increase. 

“I want to make it clear that I’m not against the sheriff’s department,” Wireman stated. “We have a budget we have to live within and I don’t see how we can support that increase.”

Hardin explained that Wireman was comparing budget to budget, however, last year they budgeted $110,000 and expended a little over $245,000 .

Treasurer Kila Keeton also explained further that one of the deputy’s salaries had been moved from a different fund to the sheriff’s budget, also affecting the difference. 

“Last year our guess turned out to be wrong,” Hardin explained. “We’re trying to not get ourselves in that bind and go by the prior year’s performance.” 

While Wireman pointed out that the sheriff’s department is a fee office, Keeton said she has never know of the sheriff’s office to end up with excess fees to make money.

She explained further that they go ahead and budget the sheriff’s salary since he is required by law to pay himself, first, and if he doesn’t have enough in his budget, it will come out of the fiscal court. While the entire salary may not need to come out of the county’s budget, she explained it was safer to plan for it and possibly have a surplus at the end of the fiscal year. Furthermore, for every amendment they must make to the budget, it has to be advertised, costing the county roughly $500 for every amendment, Keeton explained further.

Another increase in the sheriff’s budget regarded health insurance, which Wireman originally proposed to cut, however, Keeton said they are required to provide that. 

They discussed the possibility of eliminated one deputy salary to make up the difference of the sheriff’s hazardous duty pay, however, Sheriff Carson Montgomery had a different suggestion.

“If hazardous duty retirement is the problem, I don’t want anyone to think I want to put you in a hard spot,” Montgomery said. “I need a deputy. We answer 2,300 to 2,400 complaints a year and I need help. Pull the hazardous duty retirement out and give me a deputy.”

Magistrate Pernell “Buck” Lemaster said it was his understanding that hazardous duty pay is not agreed to year to year, but they would have to prove a hardship to get out of paying it once it is accepted. He said he had no problem with Montgomery’s suggestion and told him to come forward and show when they need extra money and they should be able to help.

Keeton further explained that they participate in state retirement, therefore, money is withheld from county employee’s checks, which is given back to the county, accumulating to roughly $2,000 per month returned to the fiscal court.

Hardin asked Wireman to talk to Keeton any time in the future he has questions about the budget before going public with concerns.

Wireman proposed to take Montgomery’s suggestion of having another deputy, but taking out the hazard duty retirement, as well as asked the sheriff’s department to notify the fiscal court before they use line item funds.

Hardin disagreed and said he will not micromanage the sheriff’s office, and Wireman said he was just wanting an expenditures report. 

Wireman said, “I want to say we have a responsibility to live within a budget and I worry about our financial stability. I do support [the budget], but with protest.”

 

Similarly, Lemaster stated, “I think it’s more important to serve the people as a whole than to not vote for the budget and people suffer.”

The Court unanimously approved the budget as proposed and advertised, with the amendment to forgo the sheriff’s hazardous duty retirement in lieu of a deputy for a year.