By Al Owens
Meeting in regular session last week the Lewis County Fiscal Court moved to deny a request from the Lewis County Fire Fighters Association for exemption from the insurance tax. The court cited the possibility of discrimination since all the other non-profit organizations in the county must pay the tax and the loss in much needed revenue for the county as reasons for denying the request.
Four officials from the Flemingsburg office of the Kentucky Department of Highways, District 9 attended the court session.
Katrina Bradley, Chief District Engineer introduced David Leach, the maintenance engineer who is responsible for maintenance activities in Lewis, Greenup and Boyd Counties. She also presented Chester Polley, superintendent responsible for maintenance activities in Lewis County.
Bradley briefly described three revenue sharing programs.
She said that we have a state law that 48.2 percent of the motor fuels tax goes toward rural secondary roads and municipal roads. Of that motor usage tax 22.2 percent is expended by the Transportation Cabinet.
She stated that Lewis County has received 18.3 percent of county road aid through block grants and then 7.7 percent the municipalities received.
Randy Stull, Branch Manager of Operations for the 10 counties in Highway District 9 listed the state highways in Lewis County the department is recommending for paving and repair. The recommendations have to be approved by the state.
All these roads are slated for asphalt resurfacing. They are KY 344, Petersville Road, from the junction of Black Lick Branch extending east to the junction of KY 377 at an estimated cost of $252,326; KY 989, Salt Lick, 1.034 miles north to the junction of KY 3310 extending north to the junction of KY 9 estimated at a cost of $316,176; KY 8, the Concord/Vanceburg Road, 2.007 miles west of KY 3037 at M.P. 15.165 extending east to KY 3037 (M.P. 17.172) at a cost estimate of $132,842; and KY 57, Tollesboro-Concord, from the junction of Gerike Road extending north 1.507 miles at an estimated cost of $93,556.
Third District Magistrate Keith Chapman requested that Montgomery Creek Road be added to the list. The court adopted a resolution approving the requests.
Stull also explained that Lewis County has a total allocation of $968,562 for fiscal year 2007. He added that there is an undistributed amount of money left over from last year of $283,252. Added together thatís $1,251,814. In addition to that, the State Highway Department has also allocated $397,400 for maintenance of traffic and routine roadway maintenance. The expenses for the County Judge Executive to administer the program is $3,862. That leaves an amount for projects of $800,552.
Stull observed that thatís quite a bit more than Lewis County has had for a while.
He pointed out also that Frankfort is keeping $50,000 on hand in case the estimates the state has made for the projects are low and extra funding is needed. If that money is not spent then it will be kept in the coffers for Lewis County next year.
The court moved to advertise for bids for the construction of the Lewis County Animal Shelter Building.
Road foreman Dane Howard presented a list of recommendations for black top, chip/seal, bridge and road repairs in the county. He told the court that the Bear Branch Bridge project has been approved by the state. He also said that cost estimates for the list of projects would have to be revised because the cost of concrete continues to gradually increase.
The court adopted two resolutions granting easements for the use of the county right-of-way to lay water lines on two projects. One was for the Western-Lewis-Rectorville Water and Gas District for its Phase IV Water Project. The other was for the Electric Plant Board for its Water Line Extension Project.
The court also approved a resolution requesting passage of HB 274 that would enable the state to financially take over the county jails by 2010. That bill provides for state financial support of the jails, but the daily operations would not change. Jailer Tim Underwood, however, told the court that the Kentucky Jailers Association has little hope that the bill will pass because it would put a large financial burden on the state.
Lewis County Clerk Shirley Hinton presented her departmentís annual settlement to the court for fiscal year 2005. She reported that receipts totaled $1,817,683.26 with disbursements coming to $1,806,905.94 leaving excess fees of $10,777.32 that go to the county. The court approved the settlement.
Lewis County Sheriff Bill Lewis also presented his departmentís settlement for the 2005 fiscal year and it was approved. Lewis said that the receipts totaled $355,403.87 with disbursements of $353,836.10 leaving excess fees of $1,572.77 going to the county.
The court approved a budget amendment for the county clerkís office. Hinton told the court that in one account receipts exceeded the budgetís estimate by $20,000 and in another she overspent the budget by $5000, and the amendment reflects those changes in the budget.
The court approved another budget amendment to show the receipt of the $61,650 for the animal shelter project.
The court also approved a revision to the standing order to pre-approve certain recurring expenses to include the pass-through monies for the construction of the new Lewis County Health Department Building.
In his routine monthly report Lewis County Jailer Tim Underwood informed the court that the jail has been granted permission to add 12 beds to the state side of the Detention Center bringing the total number of beds up to 48. He said that the additional beds would bring in about $134,000 of additional revenue to the jail annually.
Underwood added that permission has also been granted to add six beds to the county side of the jail. That will increase the number of beds to 24 and will ease the overcrowding situation there.
He said the changes came about due to the changes in the square footage per inmate state law requires.
Underwood stated that he had been chosen to serve on the board that reviews the state regulations concerning jails, detention centers and prisons every two years, and those changes were among the recommendations the board was able to get passed.
Underwood also requested a raise for the deputy jailers. He told the court that the deputiesí beginning salaries were in line with neighboring counties but after that it was different. He pointed out that a new deputy working only six months received the same salary as a deputy that has worked at the jail for 16 years.
He said that the jail now employees 17 full time deputies, three less than the previous administration, and has three part time deputies.
Underwood said that he had told the deputies who asked for the raises that they could create a raise for themselves by the continued efficient operation of the jail.