Road Dept. Uniform/Laundry Service Discontinued, County Turns Rescue Squad Insurance Premiums Back Over To Squad
Darren Doyle, story:
The first reading of the 2019/2020 fiscal year county budget was approved today at the May 28, 2019 fiscal court meeting. The meeting was moved from Monday to Tuesday due to the Memorial Day holiday.
The budget amount approved at today's first reading was $2,989,117 for the general county budget and $2,123,848 for the county road department. One more reading is required before the budget will be put into effect on July 1, 2019.
In county office reports, the following representatives updated the court:
Road Report: County Road Foreman Greg Carroll discussed ordering a new ditching attachment which cost over $8K, but proceeds from the recent surplus sale covered the expense. He also discussed several blacktopping projects that are ongoing throughout the county. He reported the hiring of one full time employee and two part-time employees, which were approved later in the meeting by magistrates. He added that tile and road work is ongoing in District 1 and mowers are currently in District 6, in the Roundhill area.
Also later in the meeting, magistrates voted to discontinue the Road Department's agreement with uniform and laundry provider Aramark, upon Carroll's recommendation. He said that the county could save $10K - $12K per year in costs by purchasing their own uniforms, a commercial washer and dryer, and allowing the department to maintain clothing themselves. He noted that Aramark had charged the county $1900 for shop towel service over the course of 43 weeks and $1112 for floor mat service. "They're ripping the county off," he said. Carroll also added that there were many charges that were simply bogus while other services used by the department that were legitimate costs were far higher than necessary.
Judge Cannon said there was no record of the county agreeing or signing a contract with the uniform and laundry service provider. “We need to stop doing business with this company immediately,” said Cannon. This has just been wasted money over the past 10 years." A motion was made by Magistrate Edd Rich and seconded by Magistrate Johnny Brooks. The motion passed to discontinue the agreement and purchase a washer and dryer for the department.
Sheriff Report: Deputy Stoney Phillips gave the Sheriff's report in today's meeting in place of Sheriff Shane Doyle, was was unable to attend today's meeting. Phillips said that local law enforcement had a busy holiday weekend with increased lake patrol but that luckily, none of the calls resulted in anything too serious or personal injuries. He said two of the older vehicles are in the shop: one for routine maintenance and the other for repair from overheating while on a call this weekend. He noted that all new vehicles are running smoothly with no issues.
Jailer Report: Jailer Hank Vincent reported 26 current county inmates in the Hart County Jail with one on home incarceration. He added that one inmate had an emergency room visit because an unnamed item was lodged in his ear.
County Clerk Report: Clerk Kevin Alexander updated the court on last week's election day, which he described as "not busy" with a 20% voter turnout. That low amount was actually up from 12% turnout, which was statewide. He discussed the difficulty in finding poll workers and that last Monday his office had a major issue with computer server, of which his office is currently at the mercy of Windstream, which drew several jeers from those in attendance.
"When our website is down, it affects our PVA and others seeking title information," he said. He also encouraged magistrates to pass along thanks to local poll workers. He commended all local workers for another job well done.
Tourism Report: Tourism Director Rhonda Clemmons reported on plans for new cabin improvements at Mammoth Cave, which included renovations to the hotel and restaurant, as well as parking lots, entrance and landscaping. She also updated the court on the application for the county to become an official Trail Town, which had finally been officially submitted. She said from here, it's about a 45 day process to find out the result of application, which she believes the county is highly favored for approval.
Rescue Squad Insurance Issue: During the last meeting, the court discussed the discovery of the county paying the insurance premiums for the county's rescue squad, dating back to 2011; however, Judge Cannon said no record of fiscal court approving the funding could be found in previous minutes. Today, Cannon said he was contacted by former treasurer Ann Bullock, who said the payments were indeed approved by the court, but in a larger budget line item labeled as "vehicle insurance." Cannon said the premiums were approved in a budget transfer, which is why it didn't show up specifically in the minutes.
"At that time, the Rescue Squad was having some financial issues and that's why they asked the county to help them," said Cannon. "We've discovered that they are no longer having those financial issues and they can now pay those premiums themselves. We would still help if needed, but they have more money in reserve than we do. If problems arise in future, the county will look into helping them again."
The cost of the premiums are about $3K per year, according to Cannon. A motion was made and seconded and passed to stop payments of the Rescue Squad insurance premiums.
The court also:
A new motion was made by Wood, seconded by Rich to reappoint Willhite as treasurer, but at the same rate of pay, to be re-evaluated in 6 months. The motion passed unanimously.
The next fiscal court meeting is scheduled for June 10, 2019 at 9am.