Jail employees will become transport assistants, some could face unemployment
By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
During Monday night’s meeting, the Estill County Fiscal Court continued to look for ways to generate cash flow that will allow them to begin to pay back some of the county’s mountain of debt.
Judge-executive Kevin Williams presented a plan to the court to house all inmates, male and female, at the Three Forks Regional Jail in Lee County. Three Forks has agreed to house the inmates at $32 each for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2018. At that time the agreement may be re-evaluated.
The county agreed to contract with Three Forks for at least 50 beds. Jailer Bo Morris said the county currently has 58 inmates, but they sometimes have 70 or more. Recently they had as few as 43, Morris said, but it’s usually more than 50.
The county also approved a Jail Transport Plan. Judge Williams said it will probably take a few weeks to work the bugs out, but he said the proposed plan is working in other counties who face the same problems Estill County does.
He explained that the financial drain caused by the jail is not the fault of the jailer or even the court, but is the result of a failed state system that was based on the presumption that crime rates would lessen over the years, when in fact they have dramatically increased.
“County governments and county taxpayers bear the brunt of it,” Williams said, also adding that the local jail had been running in the hole since the day it opened because it has such a small capacity.
Jailer Morris had misgivings that cutting employees would not provide him the resources to do his job.
Williams insisted that the transport plan is proven.
“We’ve all lost sleep over this, but this is a business,” he said, “and it has to be done…We’re not going to walk away from it. This has been a problem for years.”
Chad Smith, a deputy jailer, asked if this is the plan that has been talked about before. He said, “The only thing I can ask, is that you involve someone with insight (in developing the plan).”
The jail transport plan was approved, and it goes into effect on February 8. All jail employees, with the exception of the jailer, will be terminated, but two will be rehired as full time assistant prisoner transport officers. Part time assistant prisoner transport officers may be hired as needed.
Jail employees will receive private notification letters, Williams said.
Peggy Frazier, a jail employee, asked the court if they are blaming the county’s financial problems on the jail.
Magistrate Marty Snowden said that the jail has been the biggest drain on the budget, and they have already spent, in the first six or seven months of this fiscal year, the amount budgeted to last for the entire year.
In other business, a second reading of the amended ordinance repealing the three dollar landline fee imposed in 1990 and adding a four dollar fee to residential and business water meters was approved.
Magistrate Darrell Johnson asked County Attorney Rodney Davis if watering tanks for livestock would be included if they are not associated with a home, and Davis said they would not be.
The court voted to make the county’s Emergency Operating Center a smoke free facility. Judge Williams said that is needed because of the expensive high-tech equipment housed there.
Judge Williams requested a transfer of a 911 services fund to CSEPP, for the amount of $14,400. CSEPP will reimburse the funds.
He also asked for pre-approval from the court to reconstruct the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACO) loan. Judge Williams said the county’s liabilities are “scattered everywhere,” and he had met with KACO officials a couple of times about combining all the loans into one, perhaps to be paid back over a ten-year period. Williams said the need to generate some cash flow is great, so that employees get paid, and the county can buy salt, as well as pay on their debt.
Williams said the county may have to go before a board, because “we are a liability[to KACO].”
Magistrate Johnson supported the decision, calling it a step in the right direction.
Judge Williams requested approval for a CGB Visa credit card for emergency expenditures. He said the county could not even get a $100 part from a local parts store to repair a truck because they won’t honor the credit. He also said that all other cards have been destroyed.
Margaret Wood and John Isfort were re-appointed to two-year terms with the ambulance board. Their term lasts through June 30, 2019.
After a job posting to hire a director at the Senior Citizens Center, Bj McGee was the only applicant to apply, and she was hired to fill the position.
The court approved claims from CSEPP for $14,400, and for an HVAC system to EM Tower.
Lucas Barnes, with the local EMA/CSEPP office, said that CSEPP recently had funds of $94,000 become available to reimburse the county.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Estill County Fiscal Court is February 19 at 6 p.m.