Additional changes coming for county budget

Published 10:13 am Thursday, April 27, 2017

Clark County’s proposed 2017-18 budget took another round of cuts and changes Wednesday in its last review before a first reading.

After multiple workshop meetings in recent weeks, Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham presented a $15.02 million balanced budget to the court Wednesday morning. From there, the changes began again.

One of the biggest points of discussion was the proposed EMS payment of $650,000 and another $450,000 for 911 services. The county splits the deficit for both agencies with the City of Winchester, with the county paying 45 percent. After budgeting $515,000 for EMS alone in 2016-17, the increase this year was hard for some magistrates to swallow.

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“It’s a huge increase,” Branham said. “We can budget whatever you want. We are contractually obligated to pay what they say. We can reduce it here. If we don’t have enough, we’ll have to ask for a transfer.”

Magistrate Pam Blackburn wanted to leave it alone, but others wanted to use some of the money elsewhere.

“It is a lot of money but it’s a service for the people,” she said. “Never will it be a money maker.”

Magistrate Daniel Konstantopoulos suggested lowering it to $613,000, the amount the county is projected to spend this year.

Eventually, the magistrates agreed to split the difference at $625,000 for EMS and lowered 911 from $450,000 to $425,000.

The Winchester Board of Commissioners has not begun its budget meeting discussions yet.

Later in the court’s discussions, Clark County Jailer Frank Doyle made an offer to lower the county’s contributions to the jail. The county budgeted nearly $860,000 in transfers to the jail for the new fiscal year. Doyle promised to generate $2.1 million in revenue, if the court would agree to $800,000 in transfers and a 3 percent pay increase for all jail employees. None of the court members objected to the proposition.

The court also cut $98,000 from the road department, which was marked to buy a new dump truck. Blackburn, who serves on the road committee, said the last proposal the committee discussed was $78,000 for a used dump truck. The line item was zeroed out and the money returned to the road department’s accounts.

The court is set to vote on the first reading of the budget during its May 10 meeting. The budget is then sent to Frankfort for state approval.

In other action, the court approved an order requiring all county-owned vehicles to be marked. The order specifies a minimum of 2-inch tall letters on both sides of the vehicle. The order says it includes the sheriff’s office, animal shelter, fire department, road department, coroner, Emergency Management and the jail.

There are exceptions for vehicles used in surveillance or undercover operations. All currently marked vehicles were grandfathered in.

Branham cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he didn’t believe the court had authority over constitutional, or elected, officers such as the jailer or sheriff.

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 or call 859-759-0051.

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