Times are hard in Washington County, and no one knows that more than the Washington County Fiscal Court. At their meeting on Friday morning, the court discussed the possibility of not conducting the county-wide bulky item cleanup this spring, which has been going on for the past eight years.
“In my opinion, to cut down on expense, have people bring their items to the landfill,” said Albert Wimsatt, director of the county road department, which conducts the annual cleanup.
“Those hours are going to be paid anyway,” said Washington County Judge/Executive John A. Settles. “It’s going to be a cost to the county to pay those employees, but the cost is not going to go away if we don’t do the cleanup.”
When asked by Magistrate Hal B. Goode what projects the road department has lined up for the spring, Settles informed the court that major projects for the spring are not set because of a lack of funds. Recent repairs to the Haydon Brothers Bridge dipped into county expenses and the county anticipates a shortage of occupational tax revenue.
Settles also said the cleanup project takes a total of eight to nine weeks to complete with breaks for routine road department jobs in between. The cleanup takes place in sections throughout the county during the course of the project.
Magistrate Morris Sweazy voiced concerns about the road crew not attending to the county’s roads while busy working the cleanup, and also addressed Wimsatt about ways to cut down on costs.
Settles said the bulky item cleanup is one of the most popular projects the county conducts.
“Here at the office, we get more positive calls and comments on this project than anything else we do,” added Settles.
The money to conduct the project comes from the county solid waste budget.
The court will discuss the cleanup project at the next meeting and Settles suggested the court make a decision to do or not do the bulky item cleanup at the first meeting in February.
In other business
• Discussion was raised about misuse of the armory gym and what could be done to limit access. A committee of Judge Settles, Jimmie Carrico and magistrates Sweazy and Billy Riney met on Jan. 15 to discuss ways to limit access. According to the records of Jimmie Carrico, there are only four groups that pay for the use of the armory on a consistent basis.
“Part of the problem is that people pay to use the gym and we get a flood of other people who are coming in and disrupting the time that they’re paying for,” said Settles. “These other people who come in and not pay are the ones misusing and abusing the gym.”
Settles made the point that it would be easier to control entry to the gym if entrance was limited to the back. The front doors to the armory would remain locked.
“What it would involve would be putting down one or two loads of rock to create a walkway and installation of an outside light by the stairs,” added Settles. “We’d also have to move a six foot section of chain link fence.”
Settles went on to say that the committee decided that “this may be a much better way to control entry.”
• The court welcomed Fran Carrico as the county’s new Property Valuation Administrator. Carrico took office on Jan. 16 after spending approximately 10 years with the Central Kentucky Economic Development Division.
“I’m very gracious to have this opportunity,” Carrico told the court. “It’s so nice to be here to serve the community.”
Carrico, appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear, replaces Margaret Platt who retired in late 2008.
• Settles appointed a five-member board to oversee the care of cemeteries within the county. The initial board will consist of one member appointed to a three-year term, two members appointed to two-year terms and two members appointed to one-year terms. Each subsequent member will serve a four-year term. No more than three members of the board may be of the same political party.
Settles recommended Len Benedict to a three-year term, Linda Anderson and Carroll Kelly to two-year terms and Bette Ward and Billy Parrott to one-year terms. Magistrate Benjamin Settles moved to approve the recommendations with a second by Sweazy. The court voted unanimously in favor.
• Magistrate Settles asked Judge Settles about funding for a sidewalk project in Willisburg. Judge Settles said that the city of Willisburg received a reimbursable Safe Routes to School grant through the state transportation department, and that the county had no jurisdiction on the matter. The $200,000 grant would have paid for a new sidewalk leading from Corner Market in Willisburg to North Washington Elementary School. Since the city of Willisburg refused to pay for the project up front due to lack of funds, the grant expired.
• The court approved to renew the county’s medical claims assistance contract for two years. Washington County EMS Director Mark Hale reported that from July 1, 2008 to Dec. 31, 2008, the service collected $312,487.29 in fees.
• The court voted to continue the lease on two 2009 Mack trucks currently used by the road department. The county normally trades in the trucks every year for newer models, but this year, the county would not receive as much in trade, plus the county is concerned that the newer 2010 models would require the use of urea tanks. An automotive grade of urea is injected into the truck’s exhaust system to scrub nitrogen oxide from the diesel exhaust.
• The court transferred ownership of a surplus ambulance to the Washington County Rescue Dive Team. The vehicle will be used to store dive equipment and make it easier for the team to perform water rescues.
The next fiscal court meeting is scheduled for Feb. 9 at 9 a.m. at the courthouse.