Several groups ask county for money, most told 'no'

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Magistrates approached by local charities, school groups in search of funding for programs, buildings

By Calen McKinney

Several asked, but only one received.

During Tuesday night's regular Taylor County Fiscal Court meeting, magistrates discussed requests the county has received to fund several local programs.

After some disagreement between magistrates, the majority voted to turn them all down but one. And magistrates said they will discuss another at a future meeting.

The first of the requests discussed is from Green River Ministries.

GRM staff members, who operate the community's homeless shelter, recently learned the shelter wasn't awarded the funding they depend on to operate.

GRM Board of Directors Chair Dan Durham wrote to Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers asking for the county to help with its funding crisis.

Durham's letter was also sent to Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young. At the last Campbellsville City Council meeting, Young appointed a committee to study possible solutions to the financial situation.

Rogers said he doesn't know what the county can do to help GRM. Magistrate James Jones said he knows GRM is facing a financial issue, but doesn't know the details.

Rogers said he isn't sure what GRM officials are asking the county to do. He said he will contact Durham and bring the issue back to magistrates at next month's meeting, which is set for Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 6 p.m. at Taylor County Courthouse and is open to the public.

Next, Rogers said Taylor County Coroner Terry Dabney has requested that a third deputy coroner position be created and the county pay the cost.

At last month's meeting, magistrates set salaries for elected officials for their upcoming terms. Rates set for the coroner's office include:

• Coroner - $18,359.44, plus an annual CPI increase.

• First deputy coroner - $6,458.08, plus the county's annual raise.

• Second deputy coroner - $4,427.57, plus the county's annual raise.

In Dabney's letter to Rogers, he writes that coroner services are required at all times. Dabney stated that he has reviewed the caseload and, when compared to last year's figures, there has been an increase. The cost would be $350 a month.

Taylor County Treasurer Melissa Williams said state law requires a county to have one deputy coroner. Judy Dabney and Al Hardy currently serve as deputy coroners.

Magistrate Tommy Corbin made a motion to not create the third position. He said the county has two now and Dabney is married to one of them, which, if they went on vacation together, would mean the county would be down to one deputy.

While voting, magistrate Matt Pendleton said he isn't in favor of creating the position because salaries have already been set.

Magistrate Richard Phillips said Dabney has served in the coroner's position for many years. Phillips said if Dabney says he needs another employee, he trusts that is the case.

In a roll call vote, Jones and Phillips cast the lone "no" votes, indicating that they were in favor of creating the proposed new position. At a vote of 4-2, however, the position won't be created.

The next request was for the county to contribute to the Backpack Food Program, which provides food for students at Campbellsville and Taylor County schools and Campbellsville/Taylor County Head Start. Students who might not have enough to eat on the weekends are given a bag of food to take home.

Sue Crabtree, coordinator of the Campbellsville Family Resource Center, has said the program doesn't have enough money for the program for the entire school year.

Magistrate John Gaines said he believes the program is valuable. The program, Rogers said, helps children who can't help themselves. Pendleton said he believes the county donating to the backpack program isn't appropriate.

Rogers said donating to Project Graduation has also been requested. The county contributed to $500 to two celebrations last year.

Magistrate Richard Phillips said he and his fellow magistrates are charged with spending taxpayer money wisely and not to be philanthropists or give money as favors to particular groups.

Jones said he supports Project Graduation and believes the celebrations help keep students away from drugs and reduce teen pregnancy. He made a motion to give $500 each to celebrations at Campbellsville and Taylor County high schools, which Gaines seconded.

Before voting, Pendleton said he agrees that Project Graduation celebrations are beneficial, but it's not appropriate for a governmental entity to donate to the celebrations. He said magistrates are to maintain county roads and provide the county's vital services.

If the county donates to one entity, Pendleton said, it would have to donate to all that ask. And he said the county can't do that.

"If we have the money to support programs like this, then we have the money to cut taxes," he said.

Gaines said the county has donated to Project Graduation before. And Pendleton said he voted to do that in the past, but isn't in favor of it now and won't be in the future. He said he will donate with his own money, but not with taxpayers╒ money.

High school graduation is an important part of a teenager's life, Gaines said, and, had Project Graduation been done when graduated high school, he might have behaved differently after he graduated.

Gaines said he doesn't believe the county must donate or not donate to all entities that ask. Jones said he agrees. He said parents pay taxes and he believes they will support the county contributing to Project Graduation.

"A thousand dollars won't break us," he said.

"Project Graduation is a party," Pendleton said. "These people are hungry," referring to the backpack program.

In a roll call vote, Jones and Gaines cast the lone "yes" votes to donate to Project Graduation. At a 4-2 vote, the county won't contribute.

Gaines said he would have made a motion to contribute to the backpack program, though he believes the result would be the same.

The next request was from officials at The Haven, the location of local alcoholic anonymous meetings in the community. Meetings are hosted there twice each day and have been, Rogers said, for about 20 years. Many of those who attend the meetings, Rogers said, are ordered to do so by local judges. He said the county has given the group some old desks in the past.

Rogers said the group has said there is no flooring in the building and asked the county to pay the $1,100 cost to install some.

Gaines asked if the group receives any governmental funding, which Rogers said it doesn't. He said volunteers pay all costs.

Gaines made a motion to pay the $1,100, though he said he believes it will likely be turned down. He said he believes paying the cost shows the county cares about those who are trying to change their lives at the meetings. Rogers said those who attend are trying to come back into society and be productive. Jones seconded the motion.

Phillips said he believes the meetings are beneficial, but he, again, doesn't support paying for the flooring with taxpayer money. He said doing so could lead to many other requests.

"Where do we draw the line?" he asked.

In a roll call vote, Jones and Gaines cast the lone "yes" votes. At a vote of 4-2, the county will not pay for the flooring.

Next, Rogers said the county has again been asked to pay $1,000 to have the Taylor County seal placed on chairs at the governor's mansion for a ceremony. Gaines made a motion to pay the cost, though it died for lack of a second.

Next, Rogers said he received a request from The Grandview to participate in its Hall of Trees fundraiser for Toys for Tots and Toys for Kids. That request died for lack of a motion. See more information about this fundraiser on Page 2 of today's issue.

Lastly, Taylor County Sheriff Allen Newton said security cameras at the courthouse are about 15 years old and rarely work. As such, he said, he would like permission to purchase seven new ones and a monitor at a total cost of about $600, with the court paying half.

Newton said there is evidence stored at his office, which is on the top floor at the courthouse, and there are many people in and out of the courthouse to attend traffic school and do business at various offices.

Jones made a motion to allow Newton to buy the cameras, which Gaines seconded and was unanimously approved.

For more from Tuesday's meeting, see Monday's issue.