By Melinda J. Overstreet
Glasgow Daily Times
The budget prepared for Barren County government for the fiscal year starting July 1 is $36,141 less than last year.
But no significant changes were recommended as the county’s fiscal court spent roughly an hour in a special-called meeting Tuesday to review the budget and air any concerns or questions about it.
Raises – or not
The budget has no allowance for an across-the-board raise for employees.
District 2 Magistrate Rickey Spillman said that in the past when the fiscal court has done that, some of the department heads add more to that amount for at least some of their staff members, so Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer said she would like to see the department heads be given the authority to make decisions about giving raises, because they are the ones who know how their employees perform and performance-based raises would provide more of an incentive for employees.
District 3 Magistrate Carl Dickerson, District 1 Magistrate John Benningfield and District 7 Magistrate Billy Houchens agreed.
“It shouldn’t be our job,” Dickerson said.
Responding to a question from County Clerk Joanne London, Dickerson explained he was suggesting if she had some money assigned to other line items in a department’s budget where she ended up having a little extra, that could be moved to the personnel budget. Greer agreed and asked the others whether they were OK with that.
No vote was taken, but by nods and miscellaneous comments, all the fiscal court members indicated they were.
Cut back where?
“This budget is really, really tight, and I’m not sure we’ve got the money coming in to [cover it],” Greer said during the discussion about raises.
District 6 Magistrate Chris Steward revisited Greer’s statement and asked her to confirm he’d heard correctly.
“Then, would it not be appropriate just to have each department cut back 5 percent of their budgets?” he asked.
“I’m pretty sure they’ve got their budgets as bare, pretty close as they can get them,” Greer said. “We’ve cut everything. … We always make it.”
Greer said it seems the money always somehow comes in to cover the spending plan, or it can get moved from one area to another, “but it’s tough.”
“We’re not having as much left over,” she said.
Steward said her words had “frightened” him about not meeting the budget.
“You ought to have to live with it from month to month,” Greer said. “It is scary. … Everything we do in county government has gone up, except our tax rate,” she said. “We can’t continue to operate on a 1970s tax rate in this economy. But that’s the way you all choose to do it, and we’ve had to make it work.”
Steward made a motion to cut the magistrates’ and judge-executive’s expense allowances 5 percent. Greer said she doesn’t have an expense allowance, so he amended it to magistrates.
“It’s not much, but if we get started … ,” he said.
Each of the seven magistrates is allowed, by Kentucky statute, up to $300 per month, for a total of $3,600 annually. This would cut the budgeted amount by a total $1,260. Whether the savings would actually be that much would depend on whether they had actually been claiming that maximum amount, and that information was not immediately available Thursday evening.
“If we’re going to ask everybody else to cut theirs, I think we can cut ours, too,” said Gary Gillon, District 5 magistrate.
After further discussion, the motion carried unanimously among those present. Magistrate Tommy Matthews was absent.
That was the only change to the proposed budget on which the fiscal court voted Thursday. The first reading of the budget ordinance is scheduled for May 20 at the court’s regular meeting.
Dickerson pointed out a request from Emergency Management Director Tony Richey, who was not present due to a death in his family, had not asked for any additional for approximately $60,000 for a radio tower.
Greer acknowledged it sounded like a lot at one time, but three county departments, the ambulance service and volunteer fire departments use that radio system, and currently they all share the rental cost involved with having it on someone else’s tower so that amount would be saved, plus some other entities may want to pay to have their equipment on the tower as well.
Work and play
Dickerson said $60,000 is budgeted for the Glasgow-Barren County Industrial Development Economic Authority, but he would like to see that increased if at all possible, perhaps after evaluating the budget at the end of the first quarter.
“You know how tight (or conservative) I am,” he said. “[But] the way I see our community, we’re going to have to start getting some jobs. … A 19-year-old kid in Glasgow, Ky., gets out of school, what are they going to do? Where are they going to work?” Dickerson asked. “You can’t throw money at everything, but there has to be something here for our children to come back here and want to stay here.”
Greer, who is a member of IDEA, said she has seen its budget.
“They are in dire need. … The city and county contributions don’t go very far,” she said.
Other discussion centered around tournament revenue from Jackie Browning Park. One of the budget items is $30,000 to pave the area between the parking lot and the ball fields at the park, along with the area around the concession stand, to make navigating the park more accessible, particularly for the handicapped.