Clark County Fiscal Court tackles issues in first meeting of 2022

Published 7:24 pm Thursday, January 13, 2022

Clark County Fiscal Court discussed topics that touched on creating an emergency management director to purchasing new voting machines and revisiting a contract that provides insurance coverage for county employees.

Steve Asbury, chief of the Clark County Fire Department, said there were around 60 vehicle accidents during last Thursday’s snowstorm that closed Interstate 64. He said Clark County was one of the first counties in the state to declare a State of Emergency with Governor Andy Beshear declaring a statewide State of Emergency later.

Based on that experience handling first responders in that weather crisis, among other ongoing discussions, Asbury suggested that the court create an emergency management director’s position, one that is separate from his role as fire chief. Asbury contends that fire chief and EMA director are a lot for one person to handle, so it is best that the job has two people filling those slots so these people can concentrate on the task at hand should there be another busy day like that experienced by first responders assisting people during the snowstorm.

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Magistrates and Asbury talked about the possibility of creating a combined assistant fire chief/EMA director position, but more study is needed to determine what kind of position and job duties before any decision is made.

Speaking of Asbury, he noted that there are no Red Cross volunteers in Clark County; another fact he became more aware of during last week’s snow storm. He asks that citizens reach out to the Red Cross or the county fire department to learn more about volunteering.

In other news, the county is poised to possibly approve the purchase of 13 new voting machines so as to modernize the ballot process. Machines offer a voter verified paper trail and additional security measures. The overall cost for the machines is projected to be more than $131,000 with the county’s share of that total to be around $57,200 possibly less.

County Clerk Michelle Turner said if the county opts to purchase the machines, the state would provide at least $57,200 — possibly more money from the pot if other counties decide not to purchase new voting machines. She said if the court decides not to purchase the machines, the county would lose those funds too. Before deciding whether to approve any purchase, magistrates asked that an official order be drawn up for their consideration at the next meeting.

Security features of the new state and federally certified machines include not being connected to modems nor connected to the internet at any point, no standard printer port, possesses countermeasures to prevent ballot/machine tampering and access through security key.

Turner said if the county moves ahead with the purchase, personnel would be trained to operate the machines in time for the May primary. She predicts that state and federal mandates will require places near and far to upgrade their ballot machines to enhance security measures and improve the voting process.

In other matters, the county’s insurance broker, or rather the middleman between insurance providers, sought to revisit a contract that the court approved in late 2021. Long story short and after intensive questioning by County Attorney William Elkins, insurance folks seemed to suggest that insurance costs have increased in recent weeks, particularly as it relates to stop-gap insurance, so somebody, whether it be the county or the insurance folks, may have to pick up the tab. Magistrates opted to study the measure in more detail before determining a course of action.

In other news, magistrates are poised to provide pay raises to part-time employees for their service during the COVID crisis between March 2020 and December 2021. Money comes from American Rescue Act funds.

And lastly, an state audit of the county’s books from 2019-2020 indicates a clean bill of health with most issues being resolved.