Fiscal Court: Roads, Animal Shelter, Donation Requests
A relatively brief, but widely varying agenda awaited the Butler County Fiscal Court on Monday night when they met in their regular meeting for October. Absent from the meeting was 4th District Magistrate David Whittinghill who missed the meeting because of the death of his mother. Also absent was County Attorney Dick Deye who is recovering at home from an illness.
Before the Court addressed the agenda 3rd District Magistrate Chad Tyree and Richie Bratcher from Butler County Cancer Assistance asked to be added to the agenda.
After approving the minutes from several past meetings the Court heard from Butler County Surveyor Cody Henderson. Henderson presented his bid proposal for a predesign topographical survey for the new boat ramps on the north side of Green River across from Woodbury in Leonard Oak. Henderson explained that Judge Fields had told him that he thought all the survey work had already been approved and paid. Henderson told the court that a boundary survey had indeed been completed and paid for, but the proposal he was presenting was for a survey to establish elevations and topography on the site, and that the work was needed in order for Bryant Engineering to complete the designs on the ramps, so that final approval could be given to the project from the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Kentucky Division of Water.
Judge Fields told the Court that he had been in contact with the Kentucky Department of Local Government concerning the cost to the county for the survey and design work from Bryant Engineering. The DLC told Fields that it would accept the cost of both the survey and design as an in-kind contribution from the county for their portion of the matching funds on the project.
The Court first approved Henderson’s bid of $7,180 for the topographical survey. The Court then voted 4-0 to accept Bryant Engineering’s design work for the ramps at the price of $17,800.
Judge Fields told the Court that it is important to expedite the processes of surveying and design because of a population of endangered Indiana Bats limits the time frame for when trees can be cut on the site. The bats were discovered by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife when they did an impact study of the proposed site. Fields said that the bats move to the trees in early April and that no trees can then be cut for several months after the bats arrive. He also told the Court that the DLC was willing to work with the county concerning deadlines for the completion of the construction because of the bats.
The Court next reviewed a single bid for materials for the new McKendree Chapel Road Bridge. The only bid submitted was from E&H Bridge and Grating for $33,509. B.D. Wilson, representing E&H, told the magistrates that their bid package included decking, I-beams, engineer approved plans, and all the hardware needed to construct the bridge. He said his company would deliver the materials to the site whenever it was needed by the bridge contractor.
Judge Fields told the Court that bids for construction of the bridge would be opened on October 25th.
First District Magistrate Stevie Givens moved to accept the bid from E&H, with Keith Daugherty seconding. The motion passed by a 4-0 vote.
Next the Court approved the pre-budgeted annual allotment for each Butler County Fire Department. The departments will each receive $10,000. 2nd District Magistrate Johnny Tuck moved to make the allotment with Chad Tyree seconding and the motion passed 4-0.
Payments for the $100 Mile Litter Abatement Program was next on the agenda. In a blanket motion the Court approved payments to; Cub Scouts Pack 208-$690, Church of the Nazarene-$603, Oak Ridge Christian Academy-$603, 5th District VFD-$600, Belmont Church Youth-$676, Butler County Boys and Girls Club-$700, and the Cool Springs Church (Youth Group)-$600. Stevie Givens moved to make the payments and the motion was seconded by Johnny Tuck. It passed by a 4-0 vote.
County Road Supervisor Timmy West recommended to the Court that it hire Roger McCoy and John DeWeese as full time, tier 3 operators. Both men are currently part-time employees. The Butler County Personnel Policy has provisions for advancement from within for County Road Department employees, and Judge Fields explained that the County decided to post two recent openings to current employees first. Johnny Tuck moved to hire McCoy and Deweese, with Chad Tyree seconding. The motion passed 4-0. The hire date for the employees will be October 21st.
Bob Wilson from People Who Care Ministries was next on the agenda. Wilson, representing Andrea’s Mission for Men, told the Court that his organization faces ongoing financial shortfalls, and had faced closure several times in 2013. He stated that it costs each resident $750 per month to receive drug and/or alcohol addiction treatment at the facility, but currently only a handful of men are able to make the payment. He said he would ask the Butler County Fiscal Court, along with the Courts from surrounding counties with residents at the facility, for aid in the form of $20 per day per resident from each county.
Judge David Fields told Wilson that the newly approved application for funding would need to be submitted to the Court before the budget process begins in March. Wilson thanked the Court and said that PWC would get the proper documentation together and would submit the formal application in the spring. No action was taken on Wilson’s request.
Magistrate Chad Tyree was on the agenda for the next three items discussed.
First, Tyree told the Court that he had been approached by a representative of the Barren River Regional Health Department. According to Tyree the Health Department wants to give the Butler County Fiscal Court a Certificate of Accomplishment for making the Butler County Courthouse tobacco free. Tyree said that representatives from the Health Department want to present the certificate in person to the Court, but can’t attend Monday night meetings because of scheduling conflicts.
Judge Fields told Tyree that the November Fiscal Court meeting will have to be moved from the second Monday in the month because Veteran’s Day falls on that date. Fields suggested that Tyree invite the representatives to that meeting. No formal action was taken on the matter.
Next, Tyree told the Court he had been contacted by Jerry Fleming about having Old Baptist Church Road near Huntsville removed from the County Road list. Julie Johnson, Fleming’s daughter, was at the meeting and spoke to the Court concerning the road.
Johnson challenged that the road had never legally been added onto the County maintenance list. Judge Fields told Johnson and the Court that County Attorney Dick Deye would need to be consulted in order to find out how to remove the road from the list.
Johnson countered that her grandfather built the road and that with only one household on the road it was illegal to add the road to the list in the first place. She cited the County Road Act of 1914 as the basis of her legal argument, and challenged that her family shouldn’t have to wait for Deye to be consulted. Johnson alleges that County Judge David Fields told her father that he (Fields) knew the road wasn’t really a county road, and told the Judge, “If it takes a court case we’re ready to do that.”
Judge Fields denied telling Fleming that the road wasn’t really a county road. In a sometimes heated exchange Fields and Johnson sparred about the steps necessary to remove the road from the maintenance list. At one point Fields told Johnson, “If this isn’t a county road we don’t want to be spending money on it. There is a place the state puts county officials that spend tax-dollars on private roads.” Johnson again told Fields that her family was prepared to take the county to court in order to remove the road from the maintenance list.
Johnson asked Fields, “What gives the County the right put up stop signs and gravel a road and say it’s a county road?” She continued her argument by asking the Court to tell her exactly how the road became a county road. Fields responded that it would take time to research the road to determine when it was taken into county maintenance and why. Again Johnson threatened to sue the county in order to take the road off the road list.
Said Johnson, “If we have to file a court case that’s fine.”
Chad Tyree echoed Fields assertion that time was needed to find out how to proceed on the matter. Johnson countered that by again alleging that they had been told by County officials that the road wasn’t a legal county road.
“Every time we called this office we were told you knew it was not a county road.” She ended the formal discussion of the matter by saying, “Maybe it’s a question that needs to be taken to court, so that’s how we’ll proceed.”
No action was taken during the meeting. After the meeting Johnson, Fields, and Tyree continued with a more amicable discussion of the situation. Fields assured Johnson that he would find out as soon as possible how to proceed on the matter.
Magistrate Chad Tyree’s next posted agenda item concerned what he called a “priority list.” Tyree challenged the rest of the magistrates to come up with a list of projects, or issues that they would like to address. Tyree used workforce development and county property upkeep as examples of the types of projects to put on the list. No action was taken on the proposal.
Butler County Sheriff Scottie Ward was next before the Court. Ward asked that the existing lease the County has on Ward’s Chevy Tahoe be transferred to his new 2013 Dodge Durango. When Ward took office the County agreed to lease Ward’s vehicle, and at that time County Attorney Dick Deye ruled it was legal to do so. Deye had reported to Judge Fields before the meeting that it would be legal to transfer the lease to Ward’s new Dodge. The Court voted 4-0 to lease the Dodge.
After approving routine bills and transfers, the monthly transfer of funds to the Butler County Jail fund, and the treasurer’s monthly and quarterly report the Court moved to the two added agenda items.
Third District Magistrate Chad Tyree said that he had been made aware of problems with the Butler County Animal Shelter. Newly hired Shelter Director Susan Meredith was introduced to the Court by Judge Fields, then she reported to the Court about problems at the shelter. Meredith said that ‘doggy-doors’ at the facility are in disrepair, that there are no operating lights in one area of the shelter, and that a tub used for bathing dogs, and doing dishes has rotten wood around it and needs repairs. She also said that of the 8 propane heaters at the shelter only one is functional, and that two small heaters are all that’s available to heat the facility. She also reported that 5 chest type freezers are at the shelter and don’t work, and have become infested with rats.
Mike Porter told the Court that in order to operate the shelter properly that Meredith needs a freezer, and scales to weigh animals so that they can be properly medicated. Judge Fields asked Timmy West if the Road Crew could help remove the non-operational freezers from the facility and possibly take them to Star-Tek Recycling. West said his crew could help, and Fields said he would look into the rest of Meredith’s requests. Fields told the Court that a gentleman in Muhlenberg County had died and left money to every animal shelter in Kentucky and that some of that money could be used to buy the scales and freezer.
No formal action was taken on the issue.
In the last item of agenda business Richie Bratcher asked to speak to the Court on behalf of Butler County Cancer Assistance. Bratcher said he asked for $10,000 in funding at the July meeting of the Court and that the request was tabled. Bratcher asked the Court why he hadn’t received an answer concerning his request, and stated that it had been three months.
Judge Fields told Bratcher that the Court had at its August meeting approved an application process for funding requests and that Butler County Cancer Assistance would be need to follow the same procedures as People Who Care Ministries. Bratcher angrily countered Fields’ answer, stating, “That’s why you put me off then (in July).” He continued, “You should have told me that night that that I needed the application, but that’s how y’all do.”
No action was taken on Bratcher’s request, and the meeting was adjourned.
The regular meeting for November falls on the November 11th Veteran’s Day Holiday, which will force the meeting to be rescheduled. According to Kentucky Revised Statutes any Fiscal Court meeting not held on its regular meeting date must be designated as a special called meeting, and discussion is limited to preannounced agenda items. The date of the special called meeting for November has not been announced.