Court approves financing for jail boiler

Published 10:40 am Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Clark County Fiscal Court approved a seven-year lease to replace the aged boiler at the county jail.

The magistrates approved the $204,000 project last week, but could not settle on a financing arrangement. The county had to pay 30 percent, more than $61,000, immediately to start the project. The payment was made from the county’s “rainy day fund” for unexpected projects or purchases.

Wednesday, the court voted to finance the remaining balance of $142,660 for seven years through the Kentucky Association of Counties. Magistrate Pam Blackburn suggested financing the balance, rather than the full amount, to lessen the amount of debt the county incurs.

The county is also investigating whether it can buy the necessary equipment itself and avoid paying sales tax rather than using the contractor, Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham said.

In February, the jail’s boiler failed temporarily leaving the facility without hot water. The 26-year-old boiler, which was original to the building, was repaired, but state inspectors gave the county 45 days to replace it.

In previous meetings, magistrates had discussed using money from the rainy day fund to cover the approximately $324,000 needed to rebuild Four Mile Road after it collapsed two years ago following heavy snow and rainfall.

As a FEMA-funded project, the county will eventually be reimbursed for 75 percent of the cost by the federal government and another 12 percent by the state, leaving the county about $60,000 out of pocket.

When those reimbursements will be paid is anyone’s guess, Branham said.

Instead, the fiscal court decided to use unbudgeted cash from the road department to pay for the project immediately.

Coupled with news the county could lose about $140,000 in state funding this year through cuts, the road department could be in dire financial straits. The county also typically relies on that unbudgeted money in the road department as start-up cash at the beginning of the fiscal year until property tax revenue begins coming in, Branham said.

The magistrates voted 6-1 Wednesday to fund the project from the road department with Magistrate Sheila McCord voting no.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or call 859-759-0051.

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