Photo by Chris Cooper Magistrate Tyler Davenport listens intently during Monday's Fiscal Court Budget meeting.

Photo by Chris Cooper

Magistrate Tyler Davenport listens intently during Monday's Fiscal Court Budget meeting.

Members of the Logan County Fiscal Court made a few changes to the proposed 2019-2020 budget on Monday, June 3. The changes amounted to an increase of approximately $30,750 annually.

This may not seem like a lot in the already anticipated multi-million dollar budget, but for some, like the rural fire departments, it will make all the difference.

The five county volunteer fire departments (Adairville, Auburn, Lewisburg, Olmstead, and Russellville) will go from $40,000 each annually to $42,000. Dunmor's department will see a $500 increase and Allensville a $250 increase annually. Monday's meeting also saw proposed contribution increases to Logan's Search & Rescue from $12,000 to $15,000 annually, the Logan County Chamber of Commerce from $1,000 to $6,000 annually (earmarked for the Tobacco Festival), the Logan County Fair Board from $5,000 to $7,500 annually (earmarked for the fair), and the Logan County Humane Society from $95,000 to $104,500 annually.

Nothing is set in stone. However, with the final reading and passage expected June 25, it's likely these and possibly more changes will be solidified after the court meeting June 11.

Magistrate Jason Harper made the motion to give the fire departments and search & rescue an increase feeling it was time. "I think it's been five years since the last increase," said Harper. "With the job I am in I see first hand how much the firefighters do for the community. They volunteer their time and then have to take time out to train and fundraise."

Magistrate Robert Chyle voted yes on the search & rescue motion but was the sole vote no for the fire department's increase.

"I'm 100 percent with the fire departments, they do a fantastic job. But in Auburn, we have some people that think too much was spent on the new fire department building and if I vote for an increase, I'm going to have a lot of people on me," said Fifth District Magistrate Chyle.

The city of Auburn received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from the state's Department for Local Government in 2014 to renovate the old Howlett Chevrolet building on Main Street to become the fire station. In 2017, Auburn's City Council voted unanimously to add an additional $400,000 from its general fund toward the completion of the project which brought its price tag to just shy of $1 million dollars. The county put no money towards the project.

Chyle did make the motion at a prior meeting to give the Humane Society an increase but was asked to wait by Judge-Executive Logan Chick until the first reading of the 2019-2020 budget was in the books. The motion for the increase was eventually made by magistrate Jack Crossley and seconded by Chyle on Tuesday, May 28.

Magistrate Tyler Davenport wants to see additional specifics put in the contract between the society and the county about keeping the shelter clean.

"There is no question that the county should maintain and fix any structure or infrastructure problems with the building that houses the animals," said Davenport. "I also believe there is no question that the humane society shall maintain cleanliness of the shelter. I believe it is important to focus lots of attention to cleanliness at an animal shelter due to keeping animal sickness levels down and also for a healthier environment for the employees to work in. When potential animal adopters come to the facility, it's important for them to have a great experience. The county has a great partnership with the humane society and they are very passionate about their job. I'm not saying the shelter cleanliness is currently a major problem but adding this to the contact will help ensure shelter cleanliness is continued and a priority in our partnership."

Judge Executive Logan Chick, who votes with the court said the changes made Monday didn't alarm him but he just hoped it didn't set a pattern.

"I think all of these things are important in the community, but we better watch what we are doing," said Chick.

One of the biggest concerns for Chick is the looming state retirement system that requires county contribution, the future amount uncertain.

"If there's not something done with the Kentucky Retirement System one way or the other, we don't know what the future will bring," said Chick adding it all depends on the newly elected governor, rather it's the same one or not. "Currently, we are experiencing a 12 percent increase each year the way the system is now. The changes made to the 2019-2020 budget we made Monday didn't really bother me but it's the future expense the county may have to bare with the retirement system that we have to be mindful of. I'm just concerned about what could come down the road."

Raising taxes is never a popular decision, however, the state is passing that down to the localities if they so choose, said Chick. No one around the fiscal court table Monday was in favor of that at this time.

Before Monday's budget meeting concluded, magistrate Thomas Bouldin made a statement concerning future recreational possibilities and setting money aside in a separate line item to save for it.

"Either this year 2019-2020 or next year, I'd like to see the county create a line item for future recreational facilities significant in dollar amount," said Bouldin. "I'm not sure how others feel, I haven't spoken to the judge or anyone else about this yet, but I will be suggesting we start putting in $250,000 a year so we can prepare to drive the county in that direction. I'm not talking about a $50,000 project, I'm talking about a multi-million dollar project."

Bouldin said he wasn't trying to convince anyone on the court to revisit purchasing the Boy Scout Camp but did say if the county had started saving in a separate line item for projects such as this, it may have been easier for the court to vote yes on that purchase if they had the money set aside earmarked for recreation.

As of the first reading on May 14 total projected revenues and expenditures for the 2019-2020 county budget are $21,675,359. This does not include the changes made June 3 nor does it include changes that may be made June 11. The second and final reading of the budget will be held on June 25.