This story first appeared in the Sept. 16 issue of the Community Voice. For your access to local news and sports, call 270-384-9454.
Fiscal court meetings usually start with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer, but prayer by magistrate Greg Caldwell during Tuesday night’s meeting included words for one of their own.
Magistrate Terry Hadley was flown to a Louisville hospital earlier that day after suffering from a medical condition.
Judge Executive Gale Cowan said following the meeting that family members said doctors had not yet diagnosed Hadley’s condition.
The meeting, held at the Jim Blair center to allow social distancing, lasted less than an hour with what appeared to be the most difficult decision coming during other business from the audience.
Around a dozen members of Adair County EMS attended the meeting and Chad Wheet, assistant director, asked the court to include their staff in a pay incentive to employees coming from American Rescue Plan Act funds.
The court is still finalizing details but has approved giving up to $5,000 to full-time employees and $2,500 to part-time employees who have worked through the pandemic. Wheet asked that the incentive also be provided to EMS employees.
“Our employees are about as essential as you can get,” Wheet said.
Magistrate Chris Reeder quickly responded, “I totally agree. These guys didn’t have an option to stay home or get behind a shield.”
Sammy Baker agreed with Reeder but Billy Coffey said he believed the court would be “opening a can of worms.”
The ambulance service is operated as a taxing district that was created by the county, but it operates independently with its own budget and its own authority to impose taxes. The pay scale for EMS employees is not determined by the fiscal court nor are employees paid by county funds.
Coffey questioned how the court would respond when other taxing districts or the fee-based utility district make the same request for their employees. The county’s independent taxing districts include the health department, library, extension, conservation and schools.
Caldwell suggested he would like to wait until they know more about the cost.
County Attorney Jennifer Hutchison Corbin was asked if this was a legal use of ARPA funds and she said she believed it could be done. All uses of ARPA funds are being reviewed by a consulting firm hired by the county.
Reeder made a motion to approve the funding and Baker seconded. The motion failed, however, with Harold Burton, Coffey and Caldwell voting no.
Magistrate Daryl Flatt, who is director of Adair EMS, left the room prior to the discussion to recuse due to the conflict of interest. In addition, Reeder said if the funds are approved for EMS that Flatt would not receive any.
Following the vote, Judge Executive Gale Cowan asked Wheet to come back with information about number of employees and their qualifications for the funding.
Court further defines employee ARPA bonus
Earlier in the meeting, the court agreed with a recommendation from the ARPA committee on the way to pay an employee incentive for employees who have worked through the pandemic.
Treasurer Melinda Quinn said most counties are paying a specific amount an hour, with a set limit. The court agreed, upon approval, to pay employees who are currently employed $3 an hour for working hours from March 1, 2020 through Oct. 1, 2021. The hours must be hours worked and do not include vacations and sick time, or time off while under quarantine. Former employees do not qualify.
An employee would have to have worked 1,667 hours during the 19-month window to receive the maximum of $5,000 for full-time or $2,500 for part-time. An employee who did not work the maximum hours would still be paid $3 an hour extra based on qualified hours. The court agreed to send the proposal to consultants for approval with all magistrates voting yes.
Court approves first reading of animal ordinance
Also during the meeting, the court gave first reading to an animal ordinance that had been hotly debated in a past meeting. No discussion was held prior to the vote.
The ordinance requires a kennel license for anyone with more than 10 cats or dogs, or a combination of 10 cats and dogs. It exempts farms over 10 acres.
Enforcement will be provided through the county’s nuisance committee, which is primarily made up of appointed magistrates. Violations could lead to a misdemeanor charge and include a fine up to $250 and 90 days in jail.
The court approved more than $14,700 in ARPA funds for a CRT device for the ambulance service. The vote is pending approval through a consulting firm.
Magistrates voted to spend $280,000 in road funds, with $40,000 going to each magisterial district for blacktopping.
The court approved a $10,000 pass-through grant for the ambulance service.
The court approved first reading to change the speed limit on Gentry Mill Road to 30 mph. The court also approved a new pay scale as part of the jail’s policies to include a recent pay raise voted on by the court.
The next meeting date has been changed to Monday, Sept. 27 due to a conference for magistrates.
By Sharon Burton