Court OKs fire grant

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By Calen McKinney

Taylor County firefighters and rescue personnel will soon receive about $400,000 in new radio and satellite equipment. And it will only cost the County about $21,000.

At their regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, magistrates agreed to pay a portion of a matching federal grant recently received by the Campbellsville Fire Department.

The grant will provide nearly $800,000 in new equipment to Taylor and Green county firefighters and emergency service personnel. The money will be divided equally between counties.

Campbellsville Fire Chief A.J. Johnson told magistrates that the department applied for a regional grant with Green, Adair and Russell counties to provide new radio and satellite equipment. Adair and Russell counties later backed out of the request, he said.

Johnson said the application was finalized last year and he recently learned the department had been awarded the grant.

The grant will provide a new digital radio system for local fire trucks and ambulances. It will also purchase portable radios and pagers.

Johnson said the grant will also help create two new base stations in the Whites Ridge and KY 289 areas. Satellites will be installed in those areas, he said, allowing for better radio contact there.

Green County fire and rescue personnel will receive the same equipment, Johnson said, and Taylor County personnel will be able to use their satellites and radio frequencies if Taylor County's are ever inoperable.

He said the equipment is compatible with equipment at the E-911 center, so no additional purchases would be required to use the new equipment.

Johnson said the grant requires a 10 percent match. Green County, he said, will pick up its half of that 10 percent.

He said he would like the City and County to equally pay the remaining matching portion, which would total about $21,000 each.

"[The County] will get an awful lot of return for that investment," he said.

Taylor County Treasurer Melissa Williams said magistrates could take a gamble and approve the request for the current budget in hopes that the County will have some surplus money to pay for the match at the end of the fiscal year.

Johnson said he can draw from the federal grant money for up to a year before the County would have to pay its share.

Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers said he would prefer to include the match in the County's 2008-2009 budget.

Magistrates agreed to pay the match whenever the money becomes available.

Jail budget

Magistrates approved the first-year budget for Taylor County's detention center, which includes a nearly $300,000 shortage in funds.

Taylor County Jailer Rick Benningfield told magistrates that he is happy the shortage totals only that amount.

Magistrate James Jones said he commended those who worked to create the budget for coming up only $300,000 short.

"That's about what startup costs are," he said.

Jones said the Detention Center Committee had previously discussed implementing a tax to raise money for the potential shortfall.

On Tuesday, Jones said the County will not be doing that.

"[The County is] not going to have to add a tax," he said.

Jones said the County has already taken steps to borrow the money it is short and pay it back.

He compared opening the jail to opening a house.

"We've got to get furniture, bedding, food and have the deputies trained and equipped," he said.

If the County ends the year with a surplus, the shortage could be less.

Jones said Department of Corrections officials have told Benningfield that his revenue estimations are somewhat conservative.

Benningfield said he would like to have the jail full within a month of its opening, which is now slated for August. He said he has spoken with a few jails and they have told him they would be sending him some inmates.

Magistrates unanimously approved the budget, which Williams said will now be included in the County's 2008-2009 fiscal year budget. That entire budget will be approved closer to the end of the current fiscal year.

Also at the meeting:

- Rogers told magistrates that he and a committee of community members met to discuss the issue of County subdivision regulations. The Committee would like to meet once more before bringing a recommendation to the Court, he said, and a tentative meeting date has been set for Tuesday, April 1.

- Magistrates adopted a resolution to apply for a grant to build sidewalks from Miller Park to Taylor Regional Hospital. The project, he said, could total $125,000 to $130,000.

- Magistrates adopted a resolution accepting about $473,000 in County Road Aid funding for 2008-2009.

- On behalf of the Project Development Board, Jones told magistrates the steel work on the new judicial center is 95 percent complete. Concrete will be completed soon on the second floor and started on the third in about a month. The building's cupola will stand at about 67 feet tall, he said, making this building the tallest in the area.

- Magistrates had second reading of an ordinance changing the name of the Taylor County Industrial Authority to the Taylor County Economic Development Authority.

- Magistrates agreed to pay $2,800 for handicapped accessible portable toilets with running water for Taylor County's Fourth of July Celebration.

- Magistrates adopted a resolution approving the financing to purchase three vehicles for the Taylor County Sheriff's Department. At the Court's February meeting, magistrates approved allowing the sheriff's department to borrow $77,000 from the Kentucky Association of Counties to purchase the nearly fully equipped vehicles.

- Rogers announced that the County will offer a PRIDE cleanup on April 7-11 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the former Fruit of the Loom location.

- Magistrates approved a mortgage payment of $427,089.67 on behalf of the Taylor County Public Courthouse Corp., the entity through which payment for Taylor County's new judicial center will pass.

- On behalf of the Detention Center Committee, magistrates approved payment of bills to CMW Inc. and Codell Construction Co., totaling $4,009.40 and $288,907.64, respectively.

- Magistrates had second reading of budget amendments transferring money from several line items in the general and road funds, totaling $20,569.58 and $7,677.74, respectively. Magistrates also had second reading of the acceptance and transfer of $75,750 in grant funding to the County's open dump fund. Magistrates agreed to transfer $44,681.56 in various line item expenses in the general fund and $6,000 in the jail fund.

- About $1.9 million in occupational taxes has been collected this fiscal year. About $150,600 has been collected since the Court's February meeting.

- Magistrates had second reading of a 15 mph speed limit on Carter Road.

- Rogers announced that the Court's next meeting, originally scheduled for Tuesday, April 8, will be rescheduled for Tuesday, April 15 to allow the Project Development Board and Law Enforcement and Detention Center Committee to meet before the Court's monthly meeting. Those groups will meet Monday, April 14.

- Staff Writer Calen McKinney can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 235 or by e-mail at reporter@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.