Scott County Fiscal Court unanimously approved the addition of approximately $5.5 million to its budget for the upcoming fiscal year at its Thursday night meeting.
An addition was made in the amount of $5,536,179.50 to the county’s fiscal budget as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Judge-Executive Joe Pat Covington said these dollars are about half of what the county will overall receive, but the next step is determining how these funds may be allocated.
“We have sat in on several webinars from the Treasury Department and also the Kentucky Association of Counties, and the webinars focus is on the criteria for how these ARPA funds can be expended,” he said. “There is no doubt that ARPA funds can be used for sewer, water or broadband projects.”
The latter of those is one of particular interest to Covington and one with which he hopes ARPA funding may be able to assist.
“With the availability of these ARPA funds, we’re going to wait until July 1 when the RFP (requests for proposals) for the broadband project are in,” Covington said. “From those negotiations, that’ll give us a baseline cost for this project. I think that’s our priority going forward. I can’t think of a bigger project that would impact more Scott County residents in a positive manner than to reach out to those unserved and underserved households to get them better connectivity.”
Covington added that CTC Technology, the county’s partner in examining options to bring broadband to the county, is looking at funding available including the state’s matching grants recently passed in House Bill 320, and funding through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
The second half of Scott County’s total ARPA funds will not be deposited “for about a year,” Covington said. The county is projected to receive between $11-14 million. All of the ARPA funds must be allocated and spent by Dec. 31, 2024.
The fiscal court also unanimously approved the second reading of the animal control ordinance, which will go into effect Tuesday, June 1, once it is advertised in the News-Graphic.
Not much had changed in regards to language in the ordinance from the first reading earlier this month to the second reading at Thursday night’s meeting. Covington said the only change involved “hurting dogs or hunting dogs,” making them exempt from a section about animals running at large.
“I had a question about people trespassing and hunting on people’s property that don’t have permission, and that (language) covers it,” he said.
Covington said the dog must be “actively and lawfully” being used as a hunting or hurting dog to be protected by this section in the ordinance.
The ordinance was passed primarily to tackle the issue of dogs running at-large in the county. An initial ordinance had been passed last month, but was reworked to include more specific language following some community feedback.
The fiscal court approved plans for a needs assessment to be conducted by Brandstetter Carroll, the architecture firm behind the new Scott County Judicial Center project. The needs assessment will look at if the current justice center building can be used to meet the needs of the Scott County Sheriff’s Office, Scott County Clerk’s Office and the Scott County Detention Center once the new one is constructed.
“Everything we’re doing now is how we can use the current justice center in the future for future needs,” Covington said. “Could it meet the needs of a sheriff’s office? Could it meet the needs of the county clerk’s office? Could it meet the needs of the detention center administrative staff? We wouldn’t put any jail cells in the current justice center, but we would put offices, storage and that kind of thing. They’ll give us a cost estimate for if we’re going to try to do any renovation there to convert courtrooms into offices or that kind of thing.”
The court approved $9,400 for this needs assessment to be conducted.
Covington then provided a brief update about his attendance at the Lexington City Council meeting earlier this week in regards to the expansion of the Central Kentucky Landfill.
“My role was to express our concern with the citizens of the Scott County and the Scott County court with the potential of that action,” he said. “We’re involved in several administrative hearings and lawsuits. The decision is on the Scott County Fiscal Court, not the Lexington City Council.”
While no action was taken at this week’s meeting, Covington said “potential” exists in the early June meeting for Lexington City Council to have a discussion about it.
Other actions taken by the fiscal court at Thursday night’s meeting include:
— Approved Electrical Inspection Department new hire.
— Approved County Attorney’s Office new hire - intern.
— Approved Human Resources Department new hire - intern.
— Approved EMA new hire.
The next regularly schedule Scott County Fiscal Court meeting will be at 9 a.m. Friday, June 11.
Kyle Woosley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.