Letcher County Fiscal Court has voted to withhold payment of what it considers an exorbitant charge of $14,000 by CSX Inc. for work related to the installation of a county water line on railroad company right-of-way.
The court voted unanimously at its May meeting Monday to pay all bills except CSX’s until the company sends a representative to a court meeting to explain its charge of $6,000 for flaggers and $7,000 for an engineer in relation to work done by the Letcher County Water and Sewer District on CSX property.
District Four Magistrate Keith Adams, who introduced the motion to withhold the payment, said the bill was outrageous and the $14,000 could be used much better than paying CSX, such as extending water lines a little farther and adding more water customers.
Adams first suggested the court extract restitution the next time CSX asks the county for a favor, but then made the motion to ask CSX to send a representative to the next court meeting.
“I’d ask them to come to pick it up at the next meeting,” said Adams. “Somebody from Florida.” (CSX is based in Jacksonville, Fla.)
Judge/Executive Jim Ward told Adams he shared his outrage and said the invoice shocked him as well. Ward directed Finance Offi cer Doris Jean Frazier to pay all bills except the one from CSX.
In other business, the court voted to approve the first reading of a proposed $10.1 million budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
“ This budget is really close, and all the departments will have to stay within their budgets,” said County Treasurer Phillip Hampton.
The only change to the budget before the reading came from District Five Magistrate Wayne Fleming, who asked that the budget for the Parks and Recreation Department be increased to $110,000. This includes $17,000 in utility costs for the county’s parks. The court voted unanimously in favor of Fleming’s request.
Ward later told The Mountain Eagle that skyrocketing fuel and energy costs had increased the overall budget from the $8.55 million budget for Fiscal Year 2010-11. Ward said the operating budget for the Letcher County Recreation Center has also added to the cost. Ward told the court that the opening of the recreation center will probably take place in mid September to allow for several construction days missed because of bad weather.
Fund totals for the 2011-2012 budget include: $3,335,970 for the General Fund; $1,361,661 for the Road Fund; $924,325 for the Jail Fund; and $3,718,867 for the Local Government Economic Activity Fund (LGEA); $835,400 for Senior Citizens Fund; and $4,000 for Forest Fire Protection (other funds).
Also at its Monday meeting, the court appointed Eric Addington of Jenkins, Charles Howard of Whitesburg, and Truman Halcomb of Jeremiah as commissioners to meet with County Court Clerk Winston Meade to re-apportion county magisterial districts based on population reported in the 2010 United States Census. The appointment of Halcomb is tentative, based on his acceptance. The court also voted unanimously to set compensation for the commissioners for their one-time meeting at $200 each.
In other business:
• Ward told Magistrate Fleming the county recycling center is not currently accepting glass, but added that Director Gary Cornett is looking for a place that will take it. Ward said the center has a great deal of glass piled up and is getting rid of it when possible.
• The court voted 4-2 to allow for two adverse weather days for the recreation center, with Fleming and Second District Magistrate Terry Adams casting the no votes.
• The court declined to accept any of the salt bids presented through the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACO), which averaged around $85 per ton, and voted to instead purchase road salt from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for a state contract price of $70 per ton. Ward said he had spoken with Cabinet representatives who told him the county can purchase all the salt it will need through the state for that price.
• The court voted to set speed limits for Stamper’s Branch and Garner Road at 10 miles per hour.
• The court voted unanimously to name the bridge at the junction of state Highways 931 and 160 on Kingscreek at the mouth of Ratliff ’s Branch in honor of Sgt. Thomas Roark.
Bank Balances for county funds as of May 10 were:
• General Fund $479,070
• Road and Bridge Fund $494,731
•Jail Fund $181,921
• LGEA Fund $1,522,588
• Senior Citizens Fund $102,383
• Forestry Fund $8,923
• Letcher County Public Courthouse Corp. Funded Depreciation Reserve Account $529,733
• Letcher County Public Courthouse Corp. Debt Service $42