Editor’s Note: Due to executive orders prohibiting gatherings of more than 10 people many governments are now using Facebook Live, Zoom and other live-streaming methods to hold public meetings. The Scott County Fiscal Court met Friday at 9 a.m. via YouTube at scottky.gov/live-streaming/ The next fiscal Court meeting is set for April 23 at 9 a.m. at the same location.
As construction nears completion on the bypass, members of the Scott County Fiscal Court oppose state plans to use a stop sign at the intersection of the bypass and Long Lick Pike.
Months ago, Scott County Judge-Executive Joe Pat Covington, State Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, and J.R. Brandenburg of the county road department each expressed concern to the Kentucky Department of Transportation that a round-about was needed at the intersection. A round-about was designed for the intersection, but the COVID-19 shutdown has impacted state funds, including revenue from the gas tax, and transportation officials now say the cost for a roundabout is too high and plans are in place to install a stop sign.
“If you leave it as it is, someone is going to get killed,” Brandenburg told the magistrates. “We’ve got to do something. I would strongly encourage the fiscal court to push for a round-about.”
Kelly Baker with District 7 of the state transportation department explained the situation. Estimates for the roundabout originally came in at $1.2 million, but the state was able to get the cost down to $700,000, but even at that price the state balked because of declining revenues due to the coronavirus shutdown, he said.
“The design is for a standard intersection,” he said. “Our team feels that what we have in place will work.”
Baker suggested that if the fiscal court could help offset some of the costs for a roundabout, state transportation officials might reconsider.
“I don’t feel it’s the county’s responsibility for a poor road design,” said Magistrate Bill Burke. “I don’t agree with that at all.”
Covington suggested the county give up its flex road funds, state funds used to pave county roads, for a year or two. Eventually Covington made a motion the county pay the state $100,000 plus surrender the 2021-22 flex road funds — about $100,000 — if the state would agree to install a roundabout.
“I don’t want to pick up the paper and read about a family getting killed at that intersection when we could have done something,” Covington said. “The state met with us, agreed with us, designed the round-about and then pulled it from the project because of the coronavirus pandemic and a decline in funding.
“I do believe the safest approach is the roundabout.”
Burke cast the only dissenting vote against Covington’s motion. Baker agreed to take the offer back to transportation officials.
The fiscal court voted against a request by the Scott County Sheriff’s Office for a grant from Homeland Security for two license plate recognition cameras at $35,000 each.
Deputy Gerald Porter explained the cameras would alert deputies if a license plate was flagged for any offense, including expired tag or some criminal offense.
Several magistrates cautioned they did not feel comfortable with the amount of cameras being used throughout society.
“I don’t like the direction this takes us,” said magistrate David Livington. Several other magistrates agreed, but Burke added, “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, what does it matter?”
Magistrate Kelly Corman disagreed.
“I’m not doing anything wrong, but I still don’t like it,” he said.
Burke and magistrate Dewayne Ellison supported the motion but all other magistrates voted against it.
Several months ago, the county implemented a compensation study and now the last phase is complete, Covington said. This phase provides a pay adjustment for employees with prior experience.
Jeff Mudrak, county human resources director, told magistrates some 240 employees were looked at with 75 identified as being affected, including 26 who were newly affected or who did not receive a pay increase earlier in the year.
The cost to implement this round of wage adjustments would be $199,900 in wages and $83,000 in benefits or a total of about $280,000. The adjustments would increase the county’s salary expenses about 1.5 percent, he said.
The fiscal court agreed to include this in the next fiscal year budget with a re-assessment after six months.
The fiscal court also agreed to pull $8 million it has in money market accounts due to the decline in interest, but re-invest $3 million of those funds into municipal bonds which have maintained a 1-1.5 percent yield, according to the court’s financial advisors. In order to stay as liquid as possible, any bonds purchased would be AA and would mature no later than 15 months, they said. The county currently has about $18 million in reserves, but it was noted occupational tax revenues are already down about 10 percent and are expected to fall farther. A major portion of the county’s revenues come from occupational taxes.
Mike Scogin can be reached at email@example.com.