GLASGOW – The Administrative Committee of Barren County Fiscal Court considered a varied array of topics on Monday, from noise and medical Cannabis to the County Administrative Code and whether the ambulance taxing district should be allowed to own property and have certain other authority.
The only one that the members decided by the end of that meeting to take to the full fiscal court was the administrative code, which is a compilation of county government policies and ordinances, and no changes to it were recommended by the committee members.
All the other topics were going to require further research, legal or otherwise.
Martin Peterson, vice chair of the Special Barren County Ambulance Service Taxing District board of directors, told the committee that the board requests an amendment to the December 2016 ordinance that established the district. The ordinance had originally provided the board with certain authorities, but a later amendment set those aside for the ambulance service operator, Ambulance Service Corp., which does business as Barren-Metcalfe County Emergency Medical Services, probably initially due to liability concerns, he said.
Peterson said the issue "achieved a little bit more prominence just now because, part of what is needed … [is] a new station or facility to operate out of.”
He said Charlie O'Neal, executive director of the Barren-Metcalfe County Ambulance Service, has been unable to find any existing facility in Glasgow that could be used for that purpose at a reasonable price or in a suitable location, but he has identified one or more tracts of land that might work well that are available.
If the requested ordinance amendment is made, Peterson said, “then the acquisition of the necessary property could at least be contemplated by the taxing district, if not completed.”
The taxing authority of the district could help secure the financing, “and it's believed that the purchase of the property in the district would help to assure that the interests of third parties no longer interfere with the provision of ambulance service in Barren County.”
The headquarters building along East Main Street was provided to the ambulance service by the Glasgow Electric Plant Board decades ago, with the condition that ownership would revert to the GEPB if EMS left it.
The land for the airport station is roughly halfway through a 20-year lease that, by some indications, may likely not be renewed. The county government is responsible for the debt on the building itself, with lease payments from Air Methods helicopter ambulance service, with which EMS shares the building used toward that.
The Edmonton station is owned by Metcalfe County Fiscal Court, which also serves as the taxing district board in that county, because it was formed at a time when the law for establishing such districts was different.
So, Ambulance Service Corp. does not own any of the buildings it inhabits, Peterson explained. Both the Barren County stations have maintenance issues, including roofs that need replacing, so the question arises about how much should be invested in structures not owned. Also, space is lacking for at least two ambulances to be inside the building, so they often have to be stored outside in extreme temperatures, which causes problems with keeping certain kinds of medical supplies aboard.
Peterson, a local attorney, said he drafted possible wording for the proposed change to the ordinance, and he said this does not mean the taxing district board wants to begin exercising all the powers the ordinance would provide, but they include the allowance of the taxing district to purchase and own real or personal property necessary to provide emergency ambulance service.
“That is essentially the provision that would seem to make sense at this point,” Peterson said.
His proposed amendment includes a provision that the powers could only be exercised by the taxing district board to the extent they would not conflict or interfere with the operations or needs of the Ambulance Service Corp.
The three magistrates on the committee, Jeff Botts, chair, Mark Bowman and Billy Houchens asked several questions to get better understanding of the situation and examine the viability of some other scenarios.
Barren County Judge-Executive Micheal Hale said, “It seems like it would make more sense if we used the tax dollars that's generated through the tax … to buy our own property in Barren County.”
As discussion continued, Peterson also gave the magistrates a heads up that an increase in the ambulance service tax rate would be necessary to purchase land and/or construct a building.
Botts said he was not in favor of making a decision on it this month, because it was a lot of information to digest, and he asked Peterson what time constraints exist. He was told that the primary one would be that any identified property may not be available indefinitely, so Botts said they would try to set up another meeting soon and would ask the county attorney to review the wording of the proposed amendment in the meantime.
The full fiscal court next meets July 18.
Asking for the county attorney's review was also the next step for the other two items of business.
Beth Brown, a co-owner of Singing Hills RV and Campground, said they needed a noise or nuisance ordinance to protect their business, because their customers expect peace and quiet. She had gathered sample ordinances from other places in the commonwealth and compiled them into a proposed draft. Sheriff Kent Keen was at the meeting as well and spoke of some of the challenges of enforcing such ordinances.
Dana Emmitt Hall has grown hemp for three years and sells CBD essential oils products, including edibles, and she asked the group for support of a resolution supporting medical Cannabis legalization in Kentucky, though her request initially came out as asking to support medical marijuana in the city or county. There were questions about what the county could do separately. Ultimately, a decision on whether to support the resolution for state legislation was postponed.
Magistrate Tim Coomer was also present.