Darren Doyle, story:
The Edmonson County fiscal court discussed the lease agreement between Community Action of Southern Kentucky, which also includes the local Head Start program, with the county and their use of the Community Center building.
The lease agreement is up for renewal and according to Judge Cannon, the terms of the renewal are the same, with the exception of a five year term instead of four, and is for the amount of only $215 per month. According to Cannon, that amount is only for the office space used by Community Action and has nothing to do with Head Start, nor their use of the Community Center gym.
Furthermore, Cannon said neither Head Start nor Community Action pay anything for utilities, which the county pays all for the building, excluding the County Clerk's Office which is funded by that office alone.
Cannon said that the Head Start program uses the south end lawn of the building for a playground area, but that is becoming a conflict with county employees and smoke breaks.
"Apparently, according to Head Start rules, their children can't be around people that are smoking, so when county employees go out for a smoke break, the kids have to do something else if they're on the playground," said Cannon.
He also said that it sometimes becomes difficult to hold meetings in the Judge's office due to the noise coming from the Head Start program outside the window. He added that occasionally, prisoners are near the area for a number of reasons and that children shouldn't be around that, either.
"It's not that we don't want to work with Head Start or Community Action, but our courthouse just isn't a very good place for that sort of thing."
According to County Attorney Greg Vincent, a rental analysis was performed on the property which compared the facility to similar ones in Bowling Green, Louisville, and other governments. The analysis showed that the facilities being used by CA and HS are valued at a $33,000 per year rental income, compared to only $2800/year that the county currently receives.
Vincent also added that according to the language in the lease, Community Action can use the entire building, not just their office, which he said shouldn't be the case.
The office space alone being rented by CA for $215/mo was valued at $539/mo.
Cannon said that no other county government in the district provides these services for Head Start and that with Edmonson County's current budget situation something needed to change.
"These programs do lots of good and we don't want to see them stop, but there has to be a happy medium for their continued use and benefit the county as well," he said.
Cannon suggested that Head Start move to a different location so that the county can use the entire Community Center.
"It's not that we want to make money off of Head Start, but we need office space for other county offices," he said. "We have no space left for anything. Every nook and cranny is full, every closet is full, we simply have no space left."
Magistrate Mark Woosley suggested extending the contract for one year instead of the 5 year lease the organization is requesting, but at bare minimum, requiring Head Start to pay their share of the utilities for that period, which is estimated to be around $3500 per year.
Laura Thomas, local Head Start Director said she was unaware of the discussion and was "unable to make a statement regarding the accuracy of any of the information at this time." She also said she would research the situation, consult the central office, and try to address the issue as soon as possible.
Requests for comments from Community Action were not immediately returned.
The court agreed to postpone the vote on the lease until the next meeting, which is scheduled for April 24, 2017 at 9am.