Editorial: Quantity and quality of county services have improved in recent years

August 29, 2004

As Boyle Judge-Executive Tony Wilder raises the issue of an increase in payroll taxes, it should be pointed out that although the cost of county government has increased, the quality and number of services it provides also have risen.

During Wilder's tenure as the county's top elected official, the Boyle Fiscal Court has undertaken several major projects that have improved services for Danville and Boyle County residents.

One major project was the creation of an emergency medical service, which replaced the volunteer rescue squad that had been providing ambulance service in and around Danville. It was the right thing to do. Response times have improved, the level of training of rescue personnel has improved and the EMS probably has saved lives that would have been lost under the old volunteer system. In 2004 fiscal year, which ended June 30, that service cost Boyle County taxpayers $551,847.

A second major project was the creation of a new city-county park. The city and county purchased the land on Perryville Road that ultimately became Millennium Park. All Boyle County residents now have a wonderful park that is large enough to accommodate a wide variety of activities for many years to come. The county has spent $2.4 million from its surplus funds on the park.


Another major project was the new jail on Danville Bypass. Clearly, the jail was needed. The old one in the Boyle County Courthouse was unsafe, overcrowded and costly. In an effort to cut the cost of the project, Boyle teamed up with Mercer County and also obtained a large state grant to help make debt payments on the new building, which also houses the county recycling center and the EMS.

Nevertheless, the jail suffered a major financial blow when the state decided to put juvenile prisoners in separate facilities. In 2001, the jail received $392,363 for holding juveniles. During the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2004, the jail received nothing.

In addition, the number of local prisoners held at the jail has increased sharply. The county gets no help from the state to defray those costs. Operating and paying debt service on the jail cost the county $714,452 in the 2004 fiscal year.

Another area of improved services has been solid waste disposal. Some years ago, the state began requiring counties to provide residents a way to dispose of their garbage. With its "convenience centers" in key locations around the county, including the Gose Pike center in Danville, the county is providing a service that would cost the county's rural residents plenty if they had to pay private haulers to do the job. The convenience centers are available for use by city residents, as well. Solid waste disposal, which includes operating the convenience centers and disposing of the garbage, cost the county $584,076 in fiscal year 2004.

Certainly, there are other reasons for the county's current money woes, but these projects would appear to represent the lion's share of new spending in recent years. City and county residents have benefited from these projects. There's no question that they needed to be done.

We're not suggesting that residents of Danville and Boyle County should hand Wilder and the fiscal court a blank check. At the same time, it needs to be recognized that the services provided by the county are important, indispensable or mandated by state law.

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