By WILLIAM FARLEY By WILLIAM FARLEY
The cost of services for the District and Circuit courts in Letcher County will go up as much as $25 per case as soon as the ordinance authorizing and directing additional fees to pay expenses related to court facilities becomes law.
The ordinance was passed at the June meeting of the Letcher County Fiscal Court this week and will become official after it is published in The Mountain Eagle.
The ordinance, which was introduced to offset costs incurred by the courts in conducting their business, will increase fees for a number of procedures for both civil and criminal cases. The fees for civil cases in Circuit Court will increase by $25, and fees defendants are required to pay for criminal cases in Circuit Court will also increase by $25. Filing fees for civil cases in Circuit Court will increase by $25. Court costs for traffic offense in District Court will increase by $10, as will filing fees for probate cases in District Court. Defendants will also be required to pay an additional $20 for misdemeanor cases in District Court, and filing fees for small claims cases and civil cases will also increase by $10 in District Court.
Fees for service of subpoenas and civil summons by the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department will also increase. A fee of $10 will be added to fees normally charged by the sheriff to the person requesting a subpoena. A $10 charge will also be added to the normal fee for a person requesting service of civil summons.
Court fees will be used to pay expenses for court facilities, bonds related to the courts, and for court administration. Fees collected by the sheriff’s department will be forwarded to the Commonwealth of Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet for monthly remittance to the Letcher County Fiscal Court.
In a related matter, Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward announced that the second reading of the county’s budget for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 will be held Friday, June 23, at 10 a.m. Ward said the meeting will probably be held in the District Courtroom. The delay will allow for bills that were approved for payment at Monday’s meeting to figure into balances.
In other business, the court passed a resolution for signage calling attention to Historic Downtown Whitesburg. Signs will be placed on Highway 15, on the Highway 15 Bypass, and at on U.S. 23 North. The court also voted unanimously to pass a resolution to name 712 Low Gap Road in Honor of Specialist Four Ronnie Wayne Combs, U.S. Army.
Although she did not sign the speakers’ list, Katricia Rogers asked to address the court. Rogers read from a prepared statement that accused the court of mismanaging the county’s business and finances, and accused the court of publishing a false delinquent property tax list in last week’s Mountain Eagle. Rogers said a bill she was listed as owing was not correct and had been paid. Judge Ward told Rogers the court has nothing to do with the delinquent taxpayers list, which is generated by the state, and the court has no control over the delinquent list
Rogers also accused the court of incorrectly charging her for a delinquent garbage bill and said that a paper held by Fourth District Magistrate Keith Adams at last month’s meeting was false. However, Adams said Rogers had given him that paper before the meeting and a note saying that Rogers had delinquent fees had been placed on his windshield. He said he had no control over that.
Rogers told the court she has filed a complaint with the Kentucky Attorney General, and accused Ward of making inflated claims concerning collecting garbage fees when he came into office. Ward said Rogers does not understand the way delinquent bills are handled and Adams added that while Rogers accused the court of wasting taxpayer money, it has incurred costs for registered letters and copy fees for various freedom of information requests she has filed.
When Ward attempted to explain the billing process for delinquent sanitation bills, Rodgers began to read from her prepared statement again and refused to allow Ward to continue. Ward then said her five minutes were up and instructed her to sit down. District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming expressed support for Rogers and said he believes the court owes her an apology. At the end of the meeting Fleming told the court he believes that a civil backand forth discussion between court members and the public is crucial in keeping with First Amendment rights. He added that listening to opposition voices will help everyone learn about issues. Fleming also suggested that the court look into options to ask local businesses to help offset costs for Government TV so government meetings and local events can be covered. Ward said he doesn’t think it would be legal to run ads, but said that some arrangement similar to the way KET is funded might help,
Following the Treasurer’s Report, Judge Ward read a proclamation honoring retiring Letcher County Treasurer Phillip Hampton. Ward praised Hampton for his long and honorable service to the county, which will reach 37 years and two months when he retires at the end of June. Hampton was appointed by the state on May 1, 1980, and will officially retire on June 30, 2017. County Finance Office Doris Jean Frazier said it has been a pleasure to work with Hampton and he has been a wonderful mentor to her. She said he is a great person and she will miss working with him, although they will always be friends.
Woody Bentley, of Millstone, addressed the court concerning a piece of property he had purchased for $20,000 for his grandson. Bentley said a road that had been adopted at some point by the county splits the property and make it worthless. He said his grandson is still very young, but that he wants to get the matter straightened out because his grandchildren play on the property and cars use the road, which places the children in danger.
Judge Ward asked Letcher County Attorney Jamie Hatton to look into the matter and said if Bentley could bring his deed to Hatton, it would probably help him locate the date the road was added to the county road system. The court assured Bentley the matter will be addressed.
Bill Meade, of Kingscreek, also asked about repairs of playground equipment in county parks and Ward told him the company that originally sold the equipment is preparing to replace the faulty equipment, which has a lifetime warranty. Meade complained about the length of time it has taken the company to address the matter and Ward said that Hatton had contacted the company and it will be here soon.
Bank balances for county agencies as of June 14;
General Fund $470,820.11
Road and Bridge Fund $677,442.24
Jail Fund $94,622.37
LGEA Fund: $336,398.65
Senior Citizens Fund $63,521.21
Forestry Fund $17,607.28
Letcher County Public Courthouse Depreciation Reserve $57,006.50
Letcher County Public Courthouse Debt Service $294,091.35