Whitesburg KY
Mostly clear
Mostly clear

Fiscal court votes to raise county workers’ pay

All Letcher County employees will receive a 25 cent per hour raise, beginning with the next pay period.

Judge/Executive Terry Adams told the Letcher County Fiscal Court at its May meeting that he and Letcher County Treasurer Doris Jean Frazier had been looking for ways to give employees a wage increase. Adams said county employees work hard for low pay and he and Frazier have been looking for ways to increase their pay.

Adams told the court that the wage increase will be immediate for every employee, including new hires. He said this is to make certain that even the lowest-paid employees, who are usually new employees who haven’t built seniority, will feel the effects of the raise. He added that the raise will affect every position, both full-time and part-time. Adams said that the financial staff are still working to figure the wage increase into salaried employees’ wages, but they will get that done too.

In other business concerning county employees, Adams told the court that as a result of retirements in the Sanitation Department, a significant number of the sanitation workers are new employees. He read the April 2011 ordinance requiring sanitation customers to curb their garbage, that is, to place trash receptacles at the edge of their driveways as close to the road as is practical. Adams said that while some experienced employees might have known where people left their garbage if they didn’t curb it, the new ones will have no idea. So, if the garbage is not placed at the edge of the driveway, it most likely won’t get picked up. He added that if customers go several weeks without having their trash picked up, the first thing they should do is take a look at where they are leaving it.

The court also approved the second reading of the county budget for Fiscal Year 2021- 2022. The $ 11,349,453.75 budget includes an appropriation from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Fund of $4,180,072, but it is not yet clear how that money can be spent.The expenditure of the money is listed only as “reserve for transfer” in the same amount as the grant. The budget is balanced with revenue and expenditures both estimated to be $11,349.453.75.

The General Fund with a total allocation of $ 3,228.765, has an appropriation of $1,024.622 for General Health and Sanitation, $891,143 for General Government, and $767,500 for Administration. The total for the Road Fund is $2,069,862.The total Jail Fund is $585,377.The Local Government Economic Assistance Fund (LGEA) has a total allocation of $1,231,560, and $500,000 is earmarked for Debt Service with $400,900 is set aside for Recreation and Culture.

In a related matter, the budget for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 was amended to include $1,144,540.72. This includes $509,397.28 in federal grants, $373,371.90 from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, and $139,533.42 in real property taxes.

The budget and amendment were both approved by the state of Kentucky as well as the standing order for 2021-2022. The standing order allows the court to pay bills that come due monthly on the date they are due to avoid late fees if they have to wait until the date the court meets (the third Monday of each month).

Ken Mullins of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 12 presented the report from Paxton Weddington of Project Delivery and Preservation. Letcher County is scheduled to receive $1,636,294 in Rural Secondary road funds for FY 2021-2022. The amount of $484,800 is earmarked for maintenance and traffic for 82.231 miles of rural and secondary roads at $6,007.46 per mile. County judge/executive expenses are set at $2,584, and Flex Funds are set at $238,842. Roads that are scheduled for maintenance are Millstone/Kona Road, Dunham Road, Pine Creek Road, Lewis Creek Road, Flat Gap Road, Elk Creek Road, and Line Fork Road.

Harry Collins of the Letcher County Broadband Board led a brief discussion of the board’s request for proposals for broadband that was only recently prepared by the Kentucky River Area Development District. Collins said he had only glanced at the report since he received it just before he left to come to the meeting. No one on the court had an opportunity to read it either. Collins said the court will go much deeper into it at the next meeting.

The next step will be to pursue funding for countywide engineering proposals and Collins said the engineering plan will be built into the proposal. He said that while the state had built most of the “middle mile,” broadband cable that runs along main roads, the final mile will be up to localities. The final mile will actually run to people’s homes and the Letcher County Broadband Board wants to be in the running for that funding pot. Collins also reminded the court that the recent quarantine period from COVID- 19 had turned many Letcher County residents from consumers of Internet information into distributors, as the result of working from home. Upload speeds are generally much slower here than download speeds, resulting in people being able to receive large digital files, but not send them.

The court discussed its “Dig Once Policy” with Collins. The policy results from a plan the Broadband Board submitted to allow it to save money by laying its own conduit with county water lines as they are being installed. The Dig Once Policy will also save money by avoiding fees to hang lines on already installed electrical poles. Collins said the Make Ready fee that utilities charge others to hang their lines is exorbitant and the county can avoid the fee by running the conduit with water lines.

Collins also announced that enrollment for Letcher County’sfirst certified fiber optic technician’s class will be held on May 25 at Letcher County Central High School. Judge Adams said that fiber optic technicians not only receive high wages, they are also in high demand.

The court has been adding cemetery roads to the county road plan because it cannot legally work on the roads unless the roads are public. In order for the roads to be public, the cemeteries also have to be public.

The court voted unanimously to adopt a resolution establishing the following roads as county roads: Gene Banks Cemetery Road, George Bentley Cemetery Road, McRoberts Cemetery Road, and Shackle Ford Drive.

The court also passed declarations of intent to adopt the following roads as county roads: Charlie Ratliff Cemetery Road at the head of Ratliff Creek in Kingscreek, and Obie Elkins Cemetery Road on 931 South on Astor Fields Road.

The court voted unanimously to honor the following veterans of United States Military Service by placing their names on the plaque on the Blackey Memorial Board on Main Street in Blackey: Spencer Caudill, Private First Class, World War II, Jimmy “Sam” Hurd, 101st Airborne Division, Vietnam, and Billy Joe Smith, E-5 (Sergeant) United States Army, Vietnam.

Letcher County Jailer Bert Slone was unable to attend the court meeting, but sent the Jail Commissary Fund Summary and Reconciliation to the court. The Commissary Fund started the month of April with $141,541.04 and had total receipts of $57,495.04. Total funds available were $199,036.08, and total expenditures were $37,987.93, leaving a cash balance of $161,048.15.

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