By Charlotte Underwood / Staff writer
The approval of the application for a grant to help fund more energy efficient homes to be built on a development in the Emlyn community topped the agenda at the Tuesday evening Whitley County Fiscal Court meeting.
President and CEO of Kentucky Highlands Jerry Rickett spoke to the board of Magistrates and Whitley County Judge/Executive Pat White Jr. regarding the project.
“We are back to talking with the county about finishing the development in Emlyn. We are looking at developing an additional property we have there and hope to build several more units using the HBEER technology that we have worked on with the University of Kentucky,” Rickett said, asking the board to approve the application for the community development block grant which would help fund the energy efficient housing project.
“Our goal is to ultimately replace inefficient housing from a utility usage standpoint with energy efficient homes,” Rickett said, adding the “really good news about this program is the houses have to go to families who meet the requirements of HUD.”
The board approved the resolution regarding the CDB grant application to finish the Emlyn project and add 13 more houses.
“As I understand it, the appraisal of these homes is that of a standard built home, but with all the efficiency appliances, solar panels and insulation, that is what the grant is paying for,” White clarified the specific use of the grant, adding this was just a resolution approving the application for the grant.
“This is at no cost to the county?” asked Magistrate David Myers.
“Correct. The grant application is being paid for by Kentucky Highlands,” Rickett said.
During the expenditure and claims section of the meeting, Magistrate Jamie Fuson asked why the health insurance was so costly at the jail.
“When you walk in the door of the jail, you are no longer privately insured, you are insured by the county. That is the cost of insuring around 200 people,” White explained.
“People need to know that a lot of the county tax dollars go to insuring the prisoners. I know the state and federal prisoners bring in funds as well, but it’s a catch 22,” said Myers, explaining he felt it was important for the public to know these costs.
Magistrate Robbie Brown asked why over-time hours were up once again.
“It is something that you really have to stay on top of,” White said, adding it was still better than it had been two months ago.
Brown suggested getting the finance committee to look at the over time issue and work on possible ways to keep the hours down.
Litter Lieutenant participant T.J. Hamblin with the Williamsburg Masonic Lodge received a check and certificate for efforts aimed at cleaning up the county.
A check in the amount of $10,000 was presented to the American Red Cross.
Lisa Kidd, the regional development coordinator for the American Red Cross, spoke briefly to the board of magistrates.
“The six county Southeastern chapter of the Red Cross helped 21 families in Whitley County with single family fires over the past year. We also have a service called Services to the Armed Forces,” Kidd said, turning the discussion over to American Red Cross board member Dr. Michael Colegrove.
“As the authorized conduit between families and the armed forces, the American Red Cross delivered 122 messages and 39 dealt with Whitley County in the past year,” Colegrove reported, thanking the board of magistrates and White for their “important” donation.
Magistrates also approved the first reading of an ordinance pertaining to a budget amendment number one for the year 2012-2013.
“This is the first budget amendment for this fiscal year. We had to reduce the county budget by $38,429 because of a decrease in surplus prior year cash,” said County Treasurer Jeff Gray.
Several resolutions pertaining to grants that if received would go towards keeping the county clean were approved by the board. First approved was an application for a Waste Tire Grant.
“It’s a $3,000 grant we get every year to dispose of waste tires that are found throughout the county during cleanups. The state gives us that money to dispose of the tires,” said Whitley County Project Manager Amber Owens.
“This is a recurring grant we apply for every year,” White said.
The second resolution approved was for the application for an Illegal Open Dump grant.
“This is another grant that we apply for every year to help keep the county cleaned up,” White said. Thirdly it was approved to apply for the Litter Abatement Grant.
“Again, this is the third grant we get from the state government to clean up our county,” White said.
“This is the money that we use for the Litter Lieutenant Programs to buy the gloves, the garbage bags and also when the inmates are out there cleaning up. It pays the meals for the inmates that are cleaning up on the litter crew,” Owens said.
Also approved during the meeting was an amendment to the health service agreement with Southern Health Partners pertaining to a base compensation change at the Whitley County Detention Center.
“This is to add nursing hours. The proposed change is going from having a nurse for eight hours a day to having a nurse for 12 hours a day. We are seeking to do this for extra care and extra liability coverage for the county. All meds will be administered by a nurse both in the morning and the evening rather than have other guards do it,” White said.
The additional coverage will increase insurance costs by about $3,000 a month.
“The jailer has proposed paying for it with canteen dollars,” White said, adding it won’t change what was budgeted for the year.
“What happens if the canteen doesn’t do that well in the future and the canteen can’t support it,” Brown asked.
“The canteen since it started in January has been doing well, there is no concern that it won’t cover this,” White said, adding Jailer Ken Mobley felt it important that all meds be administered by a nurse.
Employee pay rates were approved as presented.
Magistrate Myers asked what the employee pay rate increases at the jail were for.
“These are three of the managerial staff at the jail,” White said.
“Is that within the jail budget?” Myers asked.
“Yes, I believe so. These were merit raises that were recommended by the jailer for people going above and beyond their normal duties,” White said.
The board approved White to sign all related documents pertaining to the Wachovia Muni Bond Derivative Settlement.
“This is a class action lawsuit. The way I understand this, there was a class action lawsuit against this bank organization for the way they handled local government financing for a period of about 10 or 12 years. What’s being alleged is that these big companies tried to rig the interest rates. What is being proposed if we participate with this law suit is that the county will receive $72,021.16,” White said.
“The alternative would cost you more that what you would get,” said County Attorney Don Moses, recommending the county accept the settlement.
Magistrates accepted and approved the Whitley County Sheriff local tax settlements as well as the Whitley County Sheriff Unmined Coal Local tax settlements.
“These were the settlements in closing out the tax year for the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department,” White said.
During the meeting, bids regarding the purchase of a 2013 ambulance were discussed.
“We have advertised for an ambulance. We have two eligible bidders. One from Windfire Equipment for $118,468 and one from Mid America in the amount of $103,724.45,” White said.
“Could we table that until we have a chance to look more at the specs from the bidders?” Myers asked, making it in the form of a motion.
“That would be appropriate and allow you to fully understand what you are awarding,” White agreed.
The ambulance bid award was tabled.
The board also discussed bids for construction materials on the Little Wolf Creek Bridge.
“We had two sections of this bid; the steel framework and the concrete work to do the abutments. We only received bids for the steel portion, not the concrete work,” White said, adding the county was applying for an 80/20 matching grant from the state to help pay for the project. The county road crew would do the installation of the steel for the bridge, according to White.
Fuson said he felt it should be sent out for bid again since no concrete bids had been received.
“I think we have not done a good enough job advertising,” Fuson said.
There was concern on the part of steel company representative Marty Hon with E&H Bridge and Grading that if it was sent out to bid again, then someone could look up his company’s bid and undercut it since the steel bid was now public knowledge. Hon formally addressed the fiscal court, asking magistrates to not put the steel portion of the project back out for bid.
“I certainly understand his position and I think I understand Magistrate Fuson’s position,” Myers said before making a motion for the board to meet in executive session to discuss the issue.
After returning from a brief executive session, the board voted to accept the steel portion of the bid.
“In all fairness to E&H Bridge and Grading, I make a motion to approve that portion, I just hope we do a better job advertising in the future,” Fuson said.
White seconded the motion, adding it was conditional on an acceptable concrete bid coming in.
Also accepted and approved during the meeting was the budget of the Cumberland Valley Area Regional Housing Authority and the budget of the Whitley County Conservation District.
The budget proposal was based on the revenue projections from the conservation district’s budget from last year.
Final business conducted at the meeting was the acceptance of a petition for an extension of Alsile Cemetery Road was discussed. The extension would be 0.2 miles for a total length of 0.243 miles.
“This is a very short road. It has been a county road for some time,” White said, adding this was just the first petition to accept the extension.
The board also approved White to sign an Assignment of Debt and Agreement between the Whitley County EMS and SIS Corp. for the purpose of collecting outstanding debts owed the Whitley County EMS.
“This is the agreement that we signed with them several months ago. This actually gives them the debt, but we will get the same percentage based on collection. This allows them more tools to collect that debt,” White said.
Moses said that he felt it was for the benefit of the county.
By Charlotte Underwood / Staff writer
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