MURRAY – The Calloway County Fiscal Court approved the first reading of the county’s 2020-21 budget at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

Judge-Executive Kenny Imes said the budget is now available to view on the county website, and members of the public who wish to comment may do so during the next monthly meeting on June 17, either in person or via Facebook during the live stream.

“We will have a public hearing at the June meeting and we’ll take those comments and read them then and try to answer questions in regard to the county’s proposed budget,” Imes said. “This is the first reading, so we can take those comments and make adjustments to amend the budget at the June meeting.”

The budget includes $5,307,853.45 (24.61%) for the general fund; $4,406,993 (28.74%) for the road fund; $3,172,096.60 (20.68%) for the jail fund; $1,423,258.32 (9.28%) for a jail grant fund; $84,200 (0.55%) for jail construction; $941,000 (6.14%) for the 911 fund. The grand total is $15,495,401.37.

The court also passed the first reading of an ordinance to create a county tourism commission. Imes said this is in conjunction with the first reading of a transient tax ordinance the court passed last month, which would impose a 3% tax on hotels and similar overnight lodging. The tourism commission would decide how to use that money to enhance the county’s tourism industry, and Imes said the court will vote on the second readings of both ordinances next month after opening the floor for public comments, either in person or via Facebook.

The court also voted to approve a contract for West KY Correctional Healthcare to provide health services for the county jail. Jailer Ken Claud said the jail had contracted with Advanced Correctional Healthcare for the last four years, but the estimated cost for those services was $183,793 for the next fiscal year. He said he received a $165,000 proposal from “a local startup” called West KY Correctional Healthcare. He added that he also received a proposal from Southern Health Partners for $194,840.

“If we went with West KY Correctional Healthcare, we would save this coming year close to $19,000,” Claud said. "We met with the CEO of that group and the doctor of the health care provider, and I feel confident that they’ll be able to deliver the health care needs for the inmates at the jail, so it’s my recommendation that we go with West KY Correctional Healthcare.”

The court held a public hearing for county road cooperative program agreement and passed a resolution adopting and approving the execution of the contract. According to the agreement, KRS 177.320 (2) provides that 18.3% of revenue from fuel taxes are set aside for construction, reconstruction and maintenance of county roads and bridges. The 2020-21 apportionment for Calloway County is $1,281,293.88, which Imes said was about $132,000 less than last year.

Calloway County Public Library Director Mignon Reed gave the court an update on the library’s search for a new trustee. She said the board interviewed seven applicants Tuesday and the board chose to submit Levi Weatherford and Lance Allison to Imes and the fiscal court for consideration.

The library has been closed since March 18 because of COVID-19, but Reed said Gov. Andy Beshear has announced that the library will be allowed to open June 8, though capacity limits and guidelines will be forthcoming. She said the outside book drop had been opened May 1 and curbside service began May 12. She said staff returned on a limited schedule on May 13 and have been cleaning and shelving materials. The summer reading program for children and teens started on a virtual basis on May 18, she said.

Reed also updated the board on expansion plans. The board voted last week to enter into a contract with 5253 Design Group. As of April 30, the building fund has $3,942,162.18, and the contract with 5253 is for approximately $6.8 million, she said.

Reed was also asked about negotiations to the buy the next-door property that is currently home to Southern Family Dental. MagistratePaul Rister asked if the price was $400,000 even though the last PVA estimate was that it was worth less than $120,000. Reed said nothing is final and the price is currently being negotiated by attorney Greg Taylor, but there had been renovations in the building.

In other business:

• The court voted to approve a lease with the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) to purchase two John Deere graters. Imes said the county would be paying $538,233.72 over the course of five years.

• The court approved a bid for a 911 geographic information system (GIS) grant. Nathan Baird, the training, advising and counseling (TAC) officer for the Calloway County Sheriff’s Office, said the department was planning to submit the grant to the Kentucky Department Homeland Security.

• The court approved the reappointment of Danny Harrison to the Fire District Board. Imes said Harrison is the board’s current chair.

• The court passed the annual standing order to pre-approve recurring expenses. Imes said this included bills such as electric and phone.

•The court approved a blanket order for the county treasurer to manage cash transfers between county agencies within the budget in the 2020-21 fiscal year.

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