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Jail cuts proposed 2019 budget

The Clark County Detention Center cut its proposed 2019 budget by nearly $1 million in an amended budget presented to county magistrates Wednesday.

In March, Clark County Jailer Frank Doyle submitted a $4.5 million budget, which added 17 full-time deputies and accounted for increased retirement contributions.

The 17 new positions would have provided 52 full-time deputies to the jail, the number deemed appropriate in a staff assessment by the Department of Corrections conducted in 2017 at the Clark County Fiscal Court’s request.

The amended $3.55 million budget adds only five new positions and cuts the requested county contribution from $2 million to $990,000.

During Wednesday’s regular Clark County Fiscal Court meeting, Judge-Executive Henry Branham said the revised jail budget was the result of discussions with Doyle to avoid increasing taxes.

Doyle said previously he was concerned about liability if an incident occurred within the jail while not meeting DOC’s recommendations.

Branham agreed in a letter he wrote to the magistrates.

“Jailer Doyle is willing to operate the Fiscal Court’s Detention Center Facility with 40 deputies instead of the 52 recommended by DOC and his employees are committed to performing whatever duties necessary to ensure the safe and secure operation of the facility,” Branham wrote.

Branham said he intends to include the new jail budget in the county’s fiscal year 2019 budget, which he will present to the court April 25.

The fiscal court’s final budget workshop meeting is scheduled for April 18 at 8 a.m. at the courthouse.

Wednesday, the fiscal court also voted down a scheduled $200,000 transfer to the Clark County Detention Center. The county had budgeted to transfer a total of $800,000 to the jail during fiscal year 2018 at quarterly intervals.

Several magistrates did not want to make the transfer, which was the last scheduled for this fiscal year, because the jail was showing a balance of more than $300,000.

“I’m just wondering why we’re going to give them another $200,000,” Magistrate Greg Elkins said.

Branham said the county had agreed to transfer the money and it was already in the county’s budget.

“I think we need to stay the course,” Branham said.

“I agree it’s a good problem to have,” Elkins said. “I’d rather keep it in the general fund.”

“Why?” Branham asked.

“Control,” Elkins said.

Magistrate Daniel Konstantopoulos said the money would still be in the general fund if the jail needed it later.

The court voted 5-2 to approve the transfers without the $200,000 for the jail. Branham and Magistrate Sheila McCord voted no.

Later in the meeting, the magistrates also voted down a measure to realign positions within the Clark County Fire Department.

In the last fiscal court meeting, Clark County Fire Chief Ernie Barnes requested clarifying the title in the county compensation plan for the fire marshal and training officer, while also moving the three battalion chiefs up a grade to create separation between the officers.

Barnes said the fire marshal position, which is currently vacant, carries the rank of major, which should be below battalion chief. Currently, a firefighter could be promoted to the training officer and fire marshal position and make more than the battalion chiefs.

“We need to spread them out some more,” Barnes said.

The move would also bring battalion chief salaries in line with those of neighboring departments, Branham said.

There seemed to be much confusion among the magistrates as to whether it was amending a position title in the pay plan, separating the jobs financially or approving a raise for the battalion chiefs.

After much discussion, the measure was defeated 4-3, with Branham, McCord and Magistrate Robert Blanton voting in favor of the changes.

In other action, the court:

— voted 6-1 to approve the second reading of an amended nuisance ordinance. It is a joint ordinance with the City of Winchester designed to make landlords liable for criminal activity happening in their properties. The owners can be fined if there are four or more violations within a year. Magistrate Joe Graham, who voted no, said he did not want to add more regulations to residents.

— approved the first reading of a joint ordinance setting new hours for county park use.

— appointed Audi Castle to the Clark County Animal Shelter board.

— requested a study from the Bluegrass Area Development District to determine ideal locations for fire stations in Clark County. The study would be free to the county.

About Fred Petke

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

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