County OKs first reading of new budget

Published 9:37 am Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Clark County’s new budget squeaked through its first reading after a last minute amendment cut more than $152,000 from the jail’s budget.

Thursday, the Clark County Fiscal Court voted 4-3 to approve the first reading of the $15.8 million fiscal year 2020 budget.

Magistrate Greg Elkins suggested taking a total of $152,353 from a number of different line items within the jail’s budget which he deemed to be excessive. Of that, $122,353 would be added to a new line item in the county budget for infrastructure for the U.S. 60 corridor, he said. The remaining $30,000 would go to the county’s contingency fund.

Email newsletter signup

In total, it represents a 1 percent change within the budget, Judge-Executive Chris Pace said.

During a joint meeting with the Winchester Board of Commissioners last week, the discussion included making improvements to the U.S. 60 corridor to spur future growth and development, but no funds had been appropriated.

Elkins said there was still enough money left in the jail budget for a 2.5 percent raise for all employees, and he did not recommended cutting any positions.

Chief Deputy Jailer Justin Crockett said he did not understand why the cuts were recommended when the jail is reducing its burden on the county while providing more services through inmate work programs.

“We’re projecting we’ll come in below (the 2019 budget) but what if something crazy comes up?” Crockett said. “If you cut that much out, where will that revenue come back from? You’re cutting salaries and services to the community and you want us to bring more money.”

The county contributes about $800,000 to the jail for its operations annually as part of its $2.7 million budget. Crockett said the jail budget increased 1.4 percent for fiscal year 2019 while revenue grew by 5.9 percent.

“The county’s share came down 11 percent and you want more,” Crockett said. “That $152,000 is a lot to put on the heads of everyone working over there.”

Pace said he had met with Jailer Frank Doyle, and said the jail is working toward being self-sufficient. The current goal is to reduce the annual transfer to $500,000 by 2023, he said.

“This jailer’s done a good job,” Magistrate Travis Thompson said. “I don’t know why we want to mess with him. We can go back to taking only county prisoners and transfers up to $1 million. We’re magistrates. We’re not the jailer.”

Magistrate Joe Graham had seconded the motion to approve the budget as presented, but rescinded it to allow Elkins’ amendment.

Thompson, Pace and Magistrate Robert Blanton voted against the first reading of the budget with the amendment.

Pace said the amendment caught him off guard, and he was comfortable with the original budget.

“I understand where the amendment came from. Folks want to invest in infrastructure and I support that.”

The state Department of Local Government now has up to 20 days to review the budget and make changes. The county, though, can not reverse any DLG alterations.

The fiscal court must approve a second reading of the budget by the last day of the fiscal year June 30.

In other action, the fiscal court:

— approved a resolution for a traffic study on McClure Road for the possible addition of a turn lane.

— approved a resolution for a speed study on Water Works Road.

— noted the appointment of Les Dixon to the tax assessment appeals board.

— approved a resolution for a grant application for Clark County Fire Department to obtain a second drone.

— approved a resolution for a grant application for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to obtain equipment and training for fire, arson and explosion investigation.

— approved a contract with Satellite Tracking of People for the county home incarceration program beginning June 1.

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.

email author More by Fred