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Magistrates continue work on 2011-2012 County budget

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As of now, funding for emergency services not included

By Calen McKinney

 

Magistrates are in the process of finalizing the County's budget for the next fiscal year but have yet to make a decision on whether they will pay the City to operate countywide emergency services.

Taylor Fiscal Court's Budgets, Audits and Personnel Committee met Monday night to continue its discussion of the 2011-2012 County budget.

At the March 8 regular Fiscal Court meeting, Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers told magistrates that he had received a letter from Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young asking the County to again enter into an interlocal agreement for the operation of Campbellsville/Taylor County Rescue and E-911.

In the letter, Young wrote that he believes he hasn't been in office long enough to make changes to improve the efficiency of Rescue. As such, Young asked that the Court continue the current agreement for two more years.

That agreement states that the County will pay the City $650,000 a year for the operation of rescue and dispatch services.

"I do feel that given time, I can make improvements that will benefit both the City and County governments and, most importantly, the citizens we represent," Young wrote. "I believe the citizens of Campbellsville and Taylor County deserve and desire the most effective quality of care during times of a medical emergency."

The subject of rescue and dispatch services wasn't discussed at Monday's Committee meeting, though several other issues were.

After the meeting, Rogers said the $650,000 the County currently pays the City to operate rescue and dispatch is not listed in the proposed 2011-2012 budget. However, Rogers said, magistrates have a little more than $1 million that they haven't yet allocated to other entities or purchases.

On Tuesday, most magistrates said they expect Young's request to be discussed at the Committee's next meeting this coming Monday.

Magistrate James Jones said he hasn't decided what he believes the County should do about rescue but that there are several alternatives. The only one he mentioned was the County taking over operation of the E-911 Center.

Jones said some residents might not realize that the County is responsible for the Taylor County Detention Center, the Taylor County Animal Shelter and maintenance of County roads. Overall, he said, he believes the County wants to help the City but at the same time be fair to both entities.

Magistrate John Gaines said he would rather not discuss the issue just yet but will when the Court meets together.

"[We will] think it out together," he said.

Magistrate Richard Phillips also declined to comment on the issue.

Magistrate Matt Pendleton said he believes the County might not have $650,000 to contribute to rescue.

"Unless [County Treasurer] Melissa [Williams] can work her magic and come up with some more money," he said.

Pendleton said there are 20 people involved in the discussion, including the Fiscal Court, Campbellsville City Council members, Rogers and Young, who all must decide the issue. He said he believes all 20 have the best interest in their hearts and are looking out for their constituents.

Magistrate Ed Gorin said he would like to see how his fellow Fiscal Court members feel about the issue before stating his opinion.

"We're just trying to work through these things," he said, "and be fair to everybody and do the best we can."

Gorin said some counties are being faced with making personnel cuts. That hasn't been necessary locally, he said, and magistrates are working to be fiscally responsible.

Magistrate Tommy Corbin, who is serving his first term as a magistrate, said he, too, hasn't made up his mind as to what the County should do, and as a rookie magistrate is still getting familiar with how Fiscal Court works.

"I'm the new kid on the block," he said.

A phone call to Campbellsville/Taylor County Rescue Director Allen Bottoms was not returned before press time.

To begin Monday's meeting, Rogers said that the proposed 2011-2012 budget is the "bare bones" of what it will take to run the County.

At the Committee's meeting a week earlier, magistrates asked Williams to prepare a budget that essentially mirrors the current one.

Williams said during Monday's meeting that she has done that, with minor changes made to account for an increase in retirement costs and a few expenses.

There are no employee raises or increases in health insurance costs in the budget, she said.

Williams said the cost of health insurance won't be known until after the start of the new fiscal year. She said officials have told her, however, that estimating the same cost as this fiscal year will be safe.

The proposed budget contains no money for new equipment, she said, and money to blacktop roads has been removed from the road fund to help make it balance. She said she believes, however, that the County can afford to allocate $50,000 for the purchase of equipment.

She said she has estimated that the County will receive $3 million in occupational taxes, which is the same amount as budgeted for the current fiscal year.

Williams told the Committee that the bottom line of the proposed budget is that the County will have only about $73,000 in reserve money.

"So this just shows you we don't have a lot of money," she said.

Williams said she believes the County should end this fiscal year in OK shape and possibly without spending the $300,000 that was budgeted as extra payment toward the $1 million loan the County received for Taylor County Detention Center startup costs. She said the group will need to decide what to do with that money.

In the 2011-2012 budget, she said, an extra $200,000 has been budgeted to pay on that loan.

If the $300,000 in this year's budget is paid toward the $1 million debt, she said, the County could eliminate that debt during the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which is earlier than scheduled.

The proposed budget calls for the County to provide about $1.7 million to the jail fund to make it balance.

Magistrate Matt Pendleton said the extra $300,000 might be needed to help this year's jail fund balance, as it's currently about $150,000 short on budgeted revenue from state inmates.

The group discussed several pieces of equipment the County could purchase for the road department, if magistrates decide to allocate $50,000 to do so. No decisions were made, though Phillips said he believes the top priority should be maintenance of the County's roads. Some, he said, are in such poor shape they are essentially deteriorating back to gravel.

"The people that we represent drive those roads every day," he said.

Williams said the jail and road funds are basically set, but that magistrates need to take the proposed general fund and decide if any changes need to be made.

Rogers agreed.

"This gives you a really true figure of where we are," he said.

The group set another meeting for Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the Taylor County Courthouse. The meeting is open to the public.

At that meeting, the group is expected to finalize the budget in preparation for a first reading before it is sent to state officials for their approval.

The Committee will discuss allocations to equipment, blacktop, reserve and the Campbellsville/Taylor County Economic Development Authority.

Williams said Tuesday that $200,000 is currently in the proposed 2011-2012 budget as the County's contribution to EDA, which is the same as this year's.