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County divides up last of FY 2016/2017 surplus

In Local, News by Lee Bratcher

By Lee Bratcher / OC Monitor

HARTFORD, Ky. — The Ohio County Fiscal Court finished dividing up the Fiscal Year 2016/2017 year-end surplus money, with most of the money going to the court member’s Discretionary Funds.

The Ohio County Fiscal Court met as the Needs Assessment Committee, Tuesday afternoon, before the regular fiscal court meeting. After dividing up around $207,000 in year-end surplus money just over two weeks ago, the committee still had around $110,000 left to appropriate.

At the July 25 Needs Assessment meeting, the committee gave $20,000 to the Cromwell Fire Department to use as a down payment on a new fire truck. Sometime in the last two weeks, it was decided the $20,000 would not come from the year-end surplus money, but from coal severance money the county is set to receive this year. The $20,000 will come from a $145,000 line item for emergency equipment as part of a grant from the Economic Development Fund from the state’s Department of Local Government.

With the $20,000 put back into the year-end surplus money, the Needs Assessment Committee had around $130,000 to divide.

At one point it was thought Tuesday night’s meeting would deal with the needs of non-county entities, but Third District Magistrate Joe Barnes suggested the committee take the remaining surplus money and divide it among the fiscal court members. The magistrates and judge-executive could then decide how to use the money in their districts.

The committee members agreed with Barnes’ suggestion, but there were a couple of county needs to be reviewed before dividing up the money.

Second District Magistrate Jason Bullock believed the committee needed to give some money to OCEDA. At the July 25 Needs Assessment meeting, OCEDA Executive Director Chase Vincent asked the committee for $100,000. The money would be put into the OCEDA Revolving Loan Fund. Several on the committee, including Fourth District Magistrate Larry Keown and Fifth District Magistrate Larry Morphew, weren’t inclined to give OCEDA any money, much less $100,000.

Vincent once again presented OCEDA’s case and explained why $100,000 would be a wise investment in the economic development of the county.

“You’re not just spending this money,” Vincent said. “You’re putting this money to use and it’s coming back to the county for future lending or for future projects elsewhere. The OCEDA Board truly appreciates anything we are given and we continue to look for other funding sources, as well.”

First District Magistrate Sam Small and Bullock were in favor of giving OCEDA something and possibly giving more at a later date, if the county’s next quarterly coal severance check rebounded from last quarter’s. Barnes wanted to wait until OCEDA’s Revolving Loan Fund was lower. The Revolving Loan Fund has $134,000 at this time.

Ohio County Judge-Executive David Johnston suggested giving OCEDA $25,000 because the $20,000 given to Cromwell Fire Department was back in the pool.

“I can live with that,” said Keown. “But I’m not going to make any promises after this.”

Morphew wasn’t in favor of giving OCEDA any money because he didn’t like the fact OCEDA could lend money at lower interest rates than the county could get when it borrowed money.

“I just don’t think the government, county, state or federal, ought to be in the banking business,” Morphew said. “That’s my opinion.”

In the end, after several minutes of discussion, the committee agreed to give $25,000 to OCEDA, but not out of the year-end surplus money. The county is scheduled to receive another coal severance grant from the DLG’s Economic Development Fund in 2018. OCEDA is set get $25,000 of that money.

The committee moved on to a request from Ohio County Tourism Director Jody Flener for $8,850 for the Jerusalem Ridge modular home move. During the July 25 meeting, Flener requested $20,000 for the modular home move, but the committee decided to give her only $11,000, thinking it would be enough money to pay for the move. It turns out, Flener needs more money to hook up the utilities, HVAC and new underpinning for the home. The cost was estimated to be around $8,850.

The committee agreed to give Flener the $8,850 needed to complete the modular home move.

Before wrapping up the meeting, the committee agreed to spend $3,047 to install security lights at the Bill Monroe Homeplace.

The committee had $117,888 in year-end surplus left over at the end of the meeting. The remaining money will be divided among the fiscal court members and put in their Discretionary Funds. Each magistrate and Johnston will receive $19,648 to use in their districts.

During Tuesday night’s Ohio County Fiscal Court meeting, Barnes made a motion to put $8,850 toward the modular home move and $3,047 to buy security lights for the Monroe Homeplace, with the rest of the surplus money to be divided among the fiscal court members. Keown seconded the motion. After a roll call vote, the motion passed unanimously.

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