Christian County fiscal court

In what is likely a first, Christian County's new fiscal year budget includes no funding for the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force that was established in the county but is now based in Muhlenberg County.

Christian County Treasurer Walter Cummings said both the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force and the Hopkinsville Drug Strike Task Force were budgeted to receive funds allocated for drug enforcement in last year's county budget, but only the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force requested funding this year.

The Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force serves 11 counties in western Kentucky, including Christian, Todd and Trigg counties.

Cummings said this is the first time he is aware of that there's been no funding for the task force.

"The locals are just picking up a lot of that work," he said of efforts by both the Christian County Sheriff's Department and the Hopkinsville Police Department to meet those needs in the community.

Christian Fiscal Court on Tuesday approved on first reading a $29.8 million budget for its new fiscal year that reflects a 3% cost-of-living raise for county employees and a $6.3 million decrease in the 2019-2020 budget, the latter due to completion of a couple of ongoing construction projects.

The new budget also includes upgrades to the Christian County Courthouse downtown, said Christian County Judge-Executive Steve Tribble, and it reflects county officials' decision to grant in full the $517,417 in funding that was requested by the Hopkinsville-Christian County Public Library.

"We think they're doing a great job bringing people in there," said Tribble, who revealed the funding for the public library while reading the new budget during a regular court meeting on Tuesday.

The library's funding included its services for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library; in Christian County, that program provides a free book each month for youngsters from birth through 5 years old, according to the library's website.

The judge-executive considered the county's proposed budget and noted that county officials can't honor full requests for everyone, not even their own departments and agencies. But Tribble said the county tried to plan a budget that "we think will be pretty good for this county," he said.

The budget includes $12.3 million in the general fund, $3.6 million in the road fund, $8.06 million in the jail fund, $202,200 in the local government economic assistance fund, $1.1 million in the E911 fee fund, $2.9 million for the health insurance fund and $1.3 million for the general obligation bond fund.

Tribble noted that the new fiscal year budget includes funding for upgrades to the downtown courthouse that will include roofing, interior improvements and tuck pointing on the bricks of the building, essentially placing fresh mortar on the bricks to make them last longer.

Additionally, $410,000 is allotted for the Pennyroyal Area Museum, $38,000 for the Hopkinsville-Christian County Airport, $14,550 to programs for senior citizens and $123,276 that has been earmarked for services to children and youth in the county, according to the proposed 2019-2020 budget.

The budget also includes $1.1 million for emergency dispatch services and $668,890 allocated for the Christian County Justice Center, including maintenance and repair for the building and other needs.

Approximately $1.3 million in capital projects included under the general fund is for grants supporting such entities as the Trilogy Center for Women and tennis courts for Ruff Park on North Drive.

Additionally, $10,000 for Christian County Emergency Medical Services is a grant for the local EMS service that "passes through" the Christian Fiscal Court each year, according to Cummings.

Tribble said the county's budget funds come primarily from property taxes.

He said the approved budget will now be sent to the state Department for Local Government where its form and content will be approved. It will then be published in the newspaper before approval on second and final reading by the fiscal court. Tribble said that reading will come before the new fiscal year begins July 1, and magistrates if needed could have a special meeting to vote on the budget.

The judge-executive described the budget as a projection of the county's revenues and expenditures.

Christian County Magistrates Mark Cansler, Darrell Gustafson and Mark Wells were on the budget committee.

Gustafson also on Tuesday asked

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Christian County Attorney John Soyars to look into a matter involving the impact of Mennonites as they travel along county roads and to see what other communities are doing in regard to any damage caused to their roads by the Mennonite vehicles.

The magistrate noted that the steel shoes worn by horses and the steel wheels used on Mennonite tractors and buggies is tearing up county roads. A case in point: Lonnie Walker Road, which officials said has just been repaved at a cost of $300,000 but which doesn't look as if it has been repaired.

In other business:

Magistrates approved a measure giving the judge-executive authority to sign a waste tire agreement with the state that will provide $4,000 in grant funding to be used for the recycling or disposal of waste tires during a grant period lasting from July 1 through June 30, 2020. Grant funds that are not utilized during that time frame will be reimbursed to the state, according to the grant agreement.The Christian County Animal Shelter received 358 animals in April, found homes for 294 and collected $9,942 in fees during the same month, Christian County Treasurer Walter Cummings said.Christian County Magistrate Rich Liebe said someone is still dumping trash at Thornton Court.Christian County Magistrate Phillip Peterson said he attended Fort Campbell's military survivors' ceremony, and Peterson said it was very humbling to see the families of soldiers that have been lost.The court approved subject to audit a cash and investment report as of April 30 totaling $15.3 million.Magistrates approved a request from the Christian County Sheriff's Department to surplus evidence lockers not needed at the new sheriff's facility and donate them to the Cadiz Police Department.The court in separate measures also agreed to surplus two bronze plaques found in the old sheriff's facility. Magistrates agreed to give one plaque recognizing the late Christian County Judge-Executive Frank Gary to his widow, Carol Gary, and to place the other plaque on county property.The court approved the re-appointment of Steve Wade to the Assessment Board of Appeals.Magistrates approved standing orders during Tuesday's meeting, essentially ordering that recurring expenses for payroll and utilities be paid when they are due. The standing orders will include such expenses as internet, cell phones, retirement, employment insurance and Social Security.

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

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