Fiscal Court considers industrial authority positions, county budget

Published 11:30 am Thursday, April 4, 2024

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As spring begins, the outdoor flowers start to bloom with the changing of seasons. 

So might be the willingness of the Clark County Fiscal Court to support a new position.

During a meeting on Thursday, March 28, magistrates of the Clark County Fiscal Court listened to a pledge for support of a Grant Writer position to be hired to work with the Winchester-Clark County Industrial Development Authority, and also discussed strengths and concerns regarding the General Fund for both the near and distant future. 

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Regarding the first matter, Winchester-Clark County Industrial Development Authority Executive Director Brad Sowden addressed the Court. 

“The county has been successful with some grant opportunities, and the city has as well,” he said, noting that infrastructure development made up much of its success. “[Project Manager] Erika [O’Brien] and I have been able to generate over [2.5] million in funds for the IDA…but we could be doing a lot more.” 

Sowden suggested partnering in providing a full-time grant writer. 

“I’ve talked to my Board of Directors and they’re on board,” he said. “I’ve talked to the City about it. I’ve talked to WMU about it. If the Fiscal Court would get behind the idea and be a partner in that, we could divide the cost of the individual four ways.” 

When asked what the estimated cost of the potential employee would be, Sowden suggested that it would be in the six-figure range.

Sowden said that he hopes it can become an agenda item at an upcoming meeting, adding that surrounding communities have benefitted from such positions. 

“Frankfort, for example, recently got a $90 million grant for a parking garage and transit center. Frankfort has a full-time grant writer,” Sowden said. 

Magistrate Dan Konstantopoulos, while not against the idea, mentioned financial concerns and inquired if there were cost-efficient alternatives such as contracting with a grant writing company.

“It’s no stranger [that] we’re pretty tight [financially],” Konstantopoulos said. 

Sowden responded, “I understand that it’s a rough time right now, which is often more reason to try to find some additional funding.”

Following further discussion, no action was taken at last Thursday’s meeting. 

The Fiscal Court also discussed its General Fund. 

At a meeting earlier in the month, sensing that a cash shortfall seemed impending, Clark County Judge-Executive Les Yates brought the issue to the court’s attention. 

While there were disagreements regarding numbers, it was argued by several magistrates that using ARPA funds would be an ineffective solution. 

Yates noted at that meeting that a freeze was placed largely on spending. 

On Thursday, he spoke once more. 

“It’s a lot better than I thought it was [going to] be. We did not go negative in the month of March, which is good. Actually, we’ve got a fairly decent surplus,” Yates said. “We can’t get above that [one] million mark…I think we’re [going] to be fine in the month of April, and I think we’ll be even okay through the month of May.” 

Among other reasons for the positive outlook, Yates gave credit to various department heads, who he noted have worked diligently toward frugality. 

Acknowledging that June might pose challenges, he spoke further. 

“I’m hoping that the carry over in that budget…is going to be somewhere between $500,000 and $800,000,” Yates said. “That’s not a whole lot, but the big concern I have is to get us from July the 1st up until maybe [the] end of October [or] into November. [If] we keep doing what we’re doing, just keeping our belts tight [and] watching our spending, I think we’re going to be fine.” 

While Magistrate Konstantopoulos noted that his projections calculated the Clark County Fiscal Court being approximately $6,000 short, both acknowledged that – while numbers are close – the court is tending to the matter. 

“I feel 100 percent better than I did a month ago, but I still agree with Magistrate Konstantopoulos…it’s [going to] be close.” Yates said. “I think we have a decent handle on the receipts for the next budget year, so now we’re trying to finalize all the appropriations.”