GLASGOW – The Barren County Fiscal Court approved on first reading an ordinance Tuesday adopting the county’s budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The meeting was held via videoconference.

The county’s budget totals to more than $14.8 million.

In discussing the budget, Judge-Executive Micheal Hale pointed out that at this point it is merely a proposed budget.

“That’s it. It’s proposed. Now we’re here working on it,” he said. “We have identified a couple of areas that I guess you say in financial terms are bleeding a little. There’s one area that bleeds a lot.”

Hale continued that when an area is found “... to be bleeding we figure it every way we know how to figure it to give it the benefit of the doubt.”

In this instance, the area that was deemed to be “bleeding” was the Barren County Detention Center.

The judge-executive did a PowerPoint presentation, showing the amounts the fiscal court had contributed to the jail’s budget during the past five years.

In 2015, the fiscal court allocated about $42,000 to the jail’s budget.

The following year the fiscal court contributed $36,000.

“And then we started taking on Monroe County inmates. That helped a bunch. And then we went through a phase in 2017 where we were $123,000 to the good,” Hale said. “In 2018, we were $166,000 to the good.”

In 2019, the fiscal court budgeted $412,000 for the jail.

“We had to give $292,000 to the jail,” he said. “This current year, yes, we did take COVID-19 into consideration, but we had to start giving them money in 2019. The debt service was part of that also. For three quarters we gave them $1,034,000.”

How much the fiscal court will have to contribute to the jail for the fourth quarter is not yet known.

Also in the PowerPoint presentation he showed the percentage of jail fund salaries, the amount of the jail fund budget and the entire budget for all departments.

For the 2019 fiscal year, the entire budget for all departments was $3.32 million, while the jail fund budget was nearly $820,000. The percentage for jail salaries was 25%.

For the 2020 fiscal year, the entire budget for all departments was $3.58 million and the jail fund budget was slightly more than $1 million. The percentage for jail salaries for the 2020 fiscal year was 29%.

The estimated amount the county needs to get to the end of June for payroll for all funds is $725,000.

“This is what we’ve got to have,” he said.

Magistrate Carl Dickerson asked Aaron Bennett, who became jailer in January 2019, what would be the bottom line to operate the jail for a year.

Bennett replied $2,912,497. That amount would cover salaries for 31 full-time employees and eight part-time employees.

“Currently, we are at 29 full-time employees and nine part-time employees,” Bennett said.

One full-time employee is moving and has already turned in his resignation, which will give the jail 28 full-time employees.

The fiscal court also discussed the jail’s inmate population.

The jail is budgeted for 83 state inmates give or take a few. For the past month, the jail has had 78 state inmates.

As for inmates from Metcalfe County, the jail typically has between 15 to 20 but now has four.

The jail also typically has 30 inmates from Monroe County but now has nine.

The number of inmates it has from Barren County is typically 100 but now has 50, Bennett said.

The jail receives money from the state to house state inmates.

Dickerson asked if the $2,912,497 Bennett quoted for operating the jail for a year included the cost to use state inmates on a road crew to clean roadsides in the county, and the jailer said it does not.

“We would have to have $75,000 for that,” Bennett said.

The jailer said he could cut some expenses aside from the state inmate road crew. He is not looking to replace employees who have resigned due to a hiring freeze and could eliminate the purchase of a new oven, a tilt skillet, a mixer and a new dryer. All of the equipment is working, but is getting old, he said.

“Besides that the rest of the budget is sufficient,” he said.

Dickerson asked if an additional $150,000 would be enough to fund the state inmate road crews, and Bennett said that it would.

The jailer pointed out that the state inmate road crews are not working at the present time due to waiting for direction from the state regarding COVID-19 when picking up trash along roadsides.

The fiscal court approved an amendment to the budget to include the amount for the jail’s state inmate road crew and to approve the amended budget ordinance on first reading. It also agreed to review the jail’s budget in six months.

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