Budget Talk

Trigg County Sheriff Aaron Acree talks to the Trigg County Fiscal Court about his 2023 budget during the court’s Jan. 17 meeting.

Trigg County Judge-Executive Stan Humphries told magistrates last week that the cost for planned improvements at the Trigg County Recreation Complex has increased dramatically in the two years since they applied for a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant for the upgrades.

Speaking during the Jan. 17 meeting of the Trigg County Fiscal Court, Humphries noted that the project has now begun with the first phase payment to the engineer/architect, but he noted that magistrates can decide to return the grant.

The $12,500 payment to Ronald Johnson and Associates for the work at the complex was among a list of expenditures approved last week by the fiscal court.

The payment represents the first part of the process the court has entered into with the architect, Humphries said.

“I know there’s been a long-awaited improvement at the complex,” the judge-executive told magistrates. “Just know that that money’s not going to go as far as you had hoped it would in 2020 if you continue down that path.”

The judge-executive said best estimates have the cost for the concession stand, bathroom and other repairs at the complex up about $75,000 in comparison to what it was in 2020.

He noted that officials will review the project to see if there are areas where expenses can be eliminated, and the judge also asked Magistrate Mike Lane to look at the plans for the project.

Humphries said the architect gave him the plans for the recreation complex last week.

The $125,000 grant must be spent by October, although there is room for an extension.

Under the grant terms, Humphries said the initial $12,500 payment is 50% reimbursable.

“We have begun this process,” the judge-executive said.

“Unless you want to turn the grant back in, we have begun this process,” he continued, adding that “we can alter that. “We can move it. We can review the plans.”

Magistrate Mike Wright expressed a need to make a decision sooner rather than later, and Magistrate Alana Dunn shared her concerns, noting there’s not much time before October.

Humphries said the grant is 50/50, with the county receiving half its expenses back on the project, up to the $125,000.

“I know when you started this in 2020 that was not the intent, was to have a project of that cost,” Humphries observed, adding that “it didn’t help that the government was shut down for a year and a half either.”

The judge-executive said the project was hampered by COVID-19 and other issues.

Also during the recent court meeting, Trigg County Sheriff Aaron Acree presented his 2023 calendar year budget to the court, and magistrates approved the $934,250 budget.

The sheriff noted that there wasn’t much difference between the 2023 budget and the budget he proposed last year.

“We did run into some trouble with some IT equipment and also our taxing program,” he said. “That’s going to be the most that we’ve asked for an increase on, our computer software.”

He said there’s been a $2,000 increase for KLEFPF, the Kentucky Law Enforcement Foundation Program Fund, for certified deputies’ pay, a $7,000 increase for computer software and an increase in the cost for the tax program.

The sheriff’s office is switching to a tax program called GUTS, or Government Utilities Technology Service Inc., which Acree said will offer the best customer service and the best program.

The new program includes a one-time fee up front and is cheaper annually after that fee, the sheriff explained.

“Everyone knows the primary function of my day-to-day operations is collecting taxes so we make sure we are functioning and well-rounded when doing so,” he said.

He pointed to other items in his budget and said there wasn’t much of an increase elsewhere. Petroleum, body cameras and equipment, and prisoner transport stayed the same.

Trigg County Treasurer Lucy Kyler said $167,000 will be reimbursed by the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts for prisoner transport, the Kentucky law enforcement fund and for security at the Trigg County Justice Center.

The judge said the budget committee “worked very feverishly” on the sheriff’s budget for ways to cut expenses.

“We want to be as secure with our funds and the citizens’ money,” the judge-executive told magistrates.

Humphries said overtime and manpower are concerns as they relate to the sheriff’s budget, and he noted that, with additional officers in place, other things such as overtime pay might be able to be eliminated.

Acree told the court his office has successfully put together a hiring board which has conducted interviews recently.

“We should see a decrease in deputy sheriff overtime,” he said. ‘With the exception of a part-time position, we are now fully staffed in all the allotted positions at the office.”

He said the sheriff’s office now has eight deputies.

Additionally, the court approved a maximum salary amount of $659,000, which is the maximum by state law that the sheriff’s office may pay for deputies and assistants in that office.

In other business:

  • Magistrates approved a list of expenditures that totaled $873,901.80, including $750,000 for Trigg County Hospital taxes.
  • The court approved the appointments of Paula C. Flood and Gary Hawkins as deputy directors for Local Emergency Management and of Trigg County Treasurer Lucy O. Kyler as the applicant agent for the Federal Emergency Management Agency for federal disaster relief.
  • The fiscal court also approved the appointment of magistrates to various committees, with the following serving as chairmen of those committees: Cameron Sumner, budget committee; Jeff Broadbent, parks and recreation and transportation committees; Alana Dunn, emergency services committee; Barry Littlejohn, building and grounds; and Mike Wright, personnel.
  • Magistrates approved a contract with Solutions Technology Group LLC of Cadiz.
  • 4-H youth will attend the next court meeting to share their trash sculptures with officials.

Reach Tonya S. Grace at 270-887-3240 or tgrace@kentuckynewera.com.

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