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County accepting truck bids, magistrate questions bills

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By Lee Bratcher / OC Monitor

HARTFORD, Ky. — At the Mar. 1 special-called meeting of the Ohio County Fiscal Court, a magistrate questioned two bills, the state misquoted the price of an oil distributor truck and the court approved a motion to advertise for bids on a new truck.

At the beginning of the meeting, during the time to approve the bills, claims, payments and transfers, Third District Magistrate Joe Barnes had some questions.

His first question was about a $10,405 budget transfer out of the county’s Reserves Fund to the Community Contributions Fund for the Rochester Ferry.

County Treasurer Anne Melton explained the money went to Butler County to pay for half the renovations to the ferry operator’s house.

Ohio County and Butler County are partners in the care and upkeep of the Rochester Ferry. Each year the state provides money to each county for those duties. Ohio County gives Butler County its share from the state and Butler County agreed to handle all upkeep and repairs. If, at the end of the fiscal year, more money has been needed than the state provided, the two counties share the expense.

Ohio County Judge-Executive David Johnston said the counties had a “good amount” of money in the Rochester Ferry Fund, but the state doesn’t allow the counties to use the money for improvement on the ferry’s buildings.

“We had a house that was in bad shape, and we fixed it up. Now it looks like a brand new one,” Johnston said. “This has been in the process for several years and the (house) is now complete and it really looks nice.”

Barnes was confused about which house was remodeled. Johnston explained it was the not the smaller building, which is a rest area of sorts, it was built in 2012.

“That’s the only other expense this county’s ever had (with the Rochester Ferry). That was $12,000,” Johnston said of the smaller building.

Johnston explained the $10,405 was for the house where one of the ferry operators live. Butler County employs two ferry operators. The one who lives in the house operates the ferry during off hours and emergency situations.

Johnston told the court a Butler County magistrate, along with the Butler County Road Department, did the remodel. According to Johnston, Ohio County is paying for half the cost of materials.

Barnes was unaware of the house remodel and asked if there was a bill to see. Melton said there was a bill, though it was “pretty thick” with every itemized ticket. Melton asked him to visit her office after the meeting to look at it.

Barnes also had a question about a vet bill for the Ohio County Animal Shelter for $1,305.22.

According to Melton, it was discovered the Animal Shelter failed to turn in several unpaid vet bills from Rough River Veterinary Clinic to the county. The vet bills went back to May 2017. Melton estimated around 16 unpaid bills made up the $1,305.22.

Second District Magistrate Jason Bullock said the county discovered the unpaid vet bills during the meeting of the Animal Control Ordinance Committee.

“So that little problem has been remedied?” asked Fourth District Magistrate Larry Morphew.

“With the (late) bills we sure hope it is, but now we’ve got an awful thing there that we’ve had such an enormous amount of animals trying to keep them a longer period of time and we’ve run into a lot of bills,” Johnston answered.

Barnes mentioned he’d like to see the 16 unpaid bills, rather than one total charge. Melton had the bills in her office and invited Barnes to look at them after the meeting.

Johnston asked for a roll call vote to approve the bills, claims, payments and transfers. The vote passed by a 5-1 vote with Barnes voting no.

Barnes voted no, “since I haven’t seen these bills,” referring to the bills in question.

Johnston informed the court he had a status change for a Road Department employee. He then made a motion to change the status of Jason Burden to Heavy Equipment Operator Level II with a pay increase from $14.80 to $15.32, effective Jan. 28, 2018.

After a roll call vote, the motion passed unanimously.

At the Feb. 13 meeting of the fiscal court, a motion was approved to buy an oil distributor truck from the state for $10,000.

At the Mar. 1 special-called meeting, it turned out the state misquoted the truck’s price and it would cost the county $15,000.

County Road Foreman Keith Nelson contacted the state and asked if the county could get the truck for $12,500. The state agreed on the price.

“The truck’s still well worth the $12,500,” Keown said. Nelson agreed.

Barnes asked if the county received anything in writing which stated the price of the truck at $10,000. Nelson said there was nothing on paper, though several did hear the price quoted as $10,000.

“It was just an honest mistake,” Nelson said.

Keown made a motion to buy the oil distributor truck from the state for $12,500 and authorize Melton to write the check. Fifth District Magistrate Larry Morphew seconded the motion.

The motion passed unanimously.

“From now on, we might have to get something in writing when we leave because I can see where that could escalate,” Barnes said.

Barnes expressed his desire to advertise for bids for a truck for the Ohio County Emergency Management Agency.

During discussion, it was decided the county would buy a ¾ ton truck. The reason being, once the EMA is ready to buy a new truck, the old truck can be used by the County Road Department.

Barnes made a motion to advertise for ¾ ton truck, crew cab with four-wheel drive. The motion also included the bid would have to be good for at least 90 days. Morphew seconded the motion.

The Finance Committee, which is made up of Barnes and Morphew, will meet to discuss ways to finance the cost of the truck.

The motion passed unanimously.

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