In May 12 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Editor
The Russell County Fiscal Court held their regular monthly meeting Monday night with a full agenda on the table but it was an item not on the agenda that sparked the most debate and intensity among the magistrates and Russell Springs resident Kathy Foley.
Foley questioned each of the magistrates, beginning with Magistrate Larry Holt, about whether or not they believed the tax was fair and if they had plans to do away with the cap, which is now at a maximum of $800 per year.
"I'm never satisfied when you have to ask people to pay a tax," Holt said.
Magistrates said there would be no more action on the occupational tax anytime soon and that they did what had to be done in order to keep the county afloat financially with only Magistrate Greg Popplewell saying he may bring the issue back up in a year or so once tax monies begin coming in.
Under the law, which went into effect April 1, anyone earning wages in Russell County will pay a one percent tax on those wages, up to $80,000. Those making more than $80,000 per year will also pay a maximum of $800 per year.
Foley has been visible at recent meetings, saying she believes the $800 cap is unfair to those that make less than $80,000 per year. Her argument is that folks with higher incomes should have to pay an equivalent of what those making less than that should.
It appears the matter is settled for now and the payroll tax will sunset in two years, unless action is taken before that time concerning the clause.
In other happenings at the meeting:
o Jailer Bobby Dunbar gave the month's jail report and said that the average daily inmate figure was at 94 with the income on jail fees being $545.81.
Dunbar said that for most of the month the detention center housed 35 state inmates but that number is now back down to 30. These state inmates generated $19,493. 48 for the jail.
The jail also received more than $9,000 in revenue from other monthly sources to make the total income $28,260.40 with no overtime for the pay period for his staff.
After Dunbar spoke, the court also heard from Michael West with of Premier Integrity Solutions of Russell Springs. West told county leaders that they can save money on jail costs by implementing Premier's GPS monitoring ankle bracelets as well as SCRAM alcohol monitoring systems upon inmates being released from court. Under this plan, inmates would contract directly with Premier and, according to West, save the county thousands of dollars.
The court took no official action on Premier' proposal, including a free month long pilot period to test the units, but did say they would look into the matter further by talking with other counties that utilize such prisoner monitoring systems and would get back with the local company in the coming weeks.
• At 5:30 p.m. the Fiscal Court met for a special called meeting. Though there was no vote taken, it was a hearing of the Local Government Economic Assistance (LGEA) funding and County Road Aid funds. The hearing is a requirement to be held once a year prior to the new fiscal year.
The reason for the meeting is to allow for any public input as to the use of the state funded money. The $4,466 received by the county through the LGEA is based on a mineral tax the county receives. The money is typically reserved to pay for the County Coroner's bond and expenses.
The county road fund is the total received by the county, not including flex funding. The $860,497 fund for the county road department funds all aspects of the agency; maintenance, administration, payroll. The fund itself is funded through gasoline tax and is determined by the road miles in a county. The funding is paid to the county through the state in three installments over the year.
o The county opened and accepted bids for road materials for the next fiscal year at the meeting with Newcomb Oil Company being the lone bidder for fuel, Hudson Material Company being the lone bidder road oil, C.R. Clearing Inc being the lone bidder for road tile materials, Selby Asphalt Maintenance was the lone bidder for road patching, Gaddie Shamrock was the lone bidder for single and double chip seal, stone and asphalt.
o The court voted to purchase one dump truck from Surplus Properties in Frankfort that came from the Mercer County State Garage for $12,000. The nine-speed 1999 GMC truck has a new bed, caterpillar motor and around 100,000 miles. The court also gave Judge-Executive Gary Robertson the authority to purchase another dump truck from Surplus Properties if it meets all the county's specifications. The county also gave Robertson the authority to purchase three salt boxes for $500 each from Surplus Properties.
o County leaders discussed the Green River Animal Shelter in Columbia after they received a letter from Judge Ann Melton in Adair County about receiving more funding from its two cooperating counties, Russell and Metcalfe.
Melton asked that the two counties each pay an additional $7,500 to put the total sum at $35,000 for each county.
While no official action was taken, magistrates advised they would look into the matter further at surrounding shelter facilities as their contract with Green River ends in June. Last year, Russell County took 552 animals to the Columbia shelter.
o The court heard from Lisa Kidd with the Lake Cumberland chapter of the Red Cross about the direction of the local program. Kidd told county leaders the local chapter assisted 46 families and delivered 44 emergency messages between family and military members in the last fiscal year. Kidd told the court that if they wished to donate to the local chapter of the Red Cross at a later date through a line item that donation would be much appreciated.
o Kathy Tupman was reappointed as treasurer for a 4-year term which ends on June 30, 2015.
o The county appointed a re-apportionment committee of Jacky Burton, Jack Wayne Stephens and Doug Anderson as required by the 2010 census with a one-time payment of $300 each.
o The court acknowledged the yearly budgets of the conservation district, the Lake Cumberland Community Action Agency and the Lake Cumberland District Health Department.
o The county repayed $152,011 back into the road fund from the general fund. The money was borrowed in November of last year.
o The county transferred $70,000 from the general fund to the jail fund and $5,000 to 911 Dispatch. The funding was allocated to these entities.
o The court opened bids to sell a wrecked Mack Dump trucks to Dale Flatt with Dale's Diesel Service for $4,150.25.
o Last month's PRIDE free trash disposal day netted 103 tons of trash and with grant funding will only cost the county $150 to $200, according to PRIDE Coordinator H.M. Bottom.
o The county took in M & M Kean Rd. into the county road system in Magistrate Jimmy McQueary's district.