By Charlotte Underwood / Staff writer
The Laurel County Fiscal Court has agreed to give London five-percent more of its occupational tax funding.
The change was made Thursday during the court’s regular monthly meeting.
According to Judge Executive David Westerfield, the county had been giving the city 25-percent and will now be giving London 30-percent of its occupational tax monies. This will result in an increase of around $400,000 a year for the city. The county collects a little over $8.2 million in occupational tax every year. The increase of funds going to the city will begin on July 1.
Magistrates also approved the appointment of Tom Jones to the County Board of Appeals. Jones replaces exiting member Barbara Flannery. The board of appeals appointment comes with a three year term.
Also approved during the meeting, was the Laurel County Clerk’s audit, which listed no deficiencies. The audit is conducted by the Kentucky State Auditor of Public Accounts.
The county clerk’s office collects certain taxes, issues licenses, maintains county records such as deeds, mortgages, liens, and other items. The office is funded through statutory fees collected in relation with these duties. It has been directed by county Clerk Dean Johnson for the past 27 years.
The audit conducted by the state auditor’s office is for the calendar year ending Dec. 31, 2011. The auditor’s report states excess fees decreased from 2010 to 2011 by $66,708, with the excess fees totaling $267,980 at the end of December 2010. Revenues increased during that same time by $266,348 and the expenditures rose by $333,056.
Westerfield also asked the board to approve the purchase of two Tandem trucks at a cost of $12,000 each. The approval was unanimous. The hiring of one full-time staff member and one part-time staff member at $10 an hour to the Jude Executive’s office was also approved. Both positions will begin on July 1.
Magistrates also heard from Laurel County Jailer Jamie Mosley who reported that the jail was “back on full swing of the remodeling program.”
“We just resurfaced seven showers and have two cells nearing completion. We are going to try to continue the remodeling throughout the year,” Mosley said.
He also spoke to magistrates about an issue that jails across the state have faced due to House Bill 463, which pertains to early release for class D level one inmates.
“This has affected work release programs, resulting in a reduction in state inmates by about half due to early release, I was fortunate at our past conference to be elected to the Kentucky Association Board of Jailer Directors and we are working hard to bring some relief,” Mosley said, adding that “we have lobbied very strongly with the governor to not renew the housing contract, which results in inmates being housed at a private facility in Marion County. This will result in them (prisoners) being redistributed back across the state, we will get some of those,” Mosley said. He told magistrates that Laurel County had not been affected by the bill as much as other counties because Laurel has three counties to pull prisoners from.
“We have had to use our county inmates on the work release program. But we have seen a reduction in revenues from those state inmates. A lot of those early release inmates have already violated their parole and are coming back in. We expect it to be a short cycle and it will go back up at a steady pace. We are up to about 80 of our Federal Marshall inmates; it is the best year financially that we have ever had,” Mosley said, telling magistrates that he appreciated support from the county which allowed some of those funds to be put back into the jail facility.
“We continue to look at the possibility of expansion, if we could add these additional beds, we could be self-sufficient and not get subsidy from the county,” Mosley said.
During the new business portion of the meeting, magistrates approved the administrative code for the 2013-2014 year.
“This is an already existing code and there are no changes, this is just the yearly update that we have to do,” Westerfield explained.
The first reading of an ordinance pertaining to an amendment to the fiscal court’s personnel policy and procedures was held. The amended personnel policy states that if any employee of the fiscal court is arrested or convicted of a crime, then they will be terminated immediately. It also changed the previous policy regarding post-accident drug testing. Before the amendment employees who were involved in an accident which caused death or bodily injury to someone or if the county had reasonable suspicion of drug or alcohol use, the employee had to submit to a drug test within eight hours of the accident. Under the new policy, the employee must submit to a drug/alcohol test immediately. Refusal to submit to testing will be considered as a positive test and will result in immediate termination.
Two roads were also adopted into the county road system. J. Crews Road in district two and Harrod Branch Road, district three, were both approved by magistrates.