Boyle will hold hearings on finances

November 08, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

As Boyle County looks for ways to cut spending, including closing down the Forkland Convenience Center, the Fiscal Court will take its cause to the people, holding a series of public hearings over the next two months.

"It's a big decision, a real weighty decision," Judge-Executive Tony Wilder said of the payroll tax increase he has suggested as one solution to the county's fiscal crisis. He expects that by the new year the magistrates will vote on the issue.

"My goal is to have a unanimous vote," Wilder said. "I don't want anyone to say they weren't informed, neither the court or the public."

The discussion about whether to increase the payroll tax, make more cuts, or both will continue at the magistrates' meeting 10 a.m. Tuesday at the courthouse.


Each department head has suggested 5 percent cuts. Judge-Executive Tony Wilder is expected to present his proposed cuts to the general fund Tuesday.

The county expects to end the year with a deficit of $730,000. The county has cashed a $100,000 certificate and expects to have to cash a $250,000 certificate in January to pay bills.

The payroll tax is 0.45 percent now, which is 45 cents for every $100 earned. At 0.75 the county would break even, and at 0.85 there would be a $300,000 surplus.

The two departments with the largest budgets, emergency medical services and the jail, said if they have to cut 5 percent it means cutting jobs. EMS would cut out an ambulance, a paramedic and an emergency medical technician.

The road department suggested the county should forego replacing the road foreman, who retired this year. The sheriff's department would cut a cruiser.

The solid waste department said it wouldn't be able to operate the Forkland Convenience Center. Customers there would have to go to Mitchellsburg.

Animal control could find no cuts.

Tentative hearings schedule

Wilder said that the court wants public input before it makes any decisions on cuts or tax increases. He has these hearings tentatively scheduled:

* 6 p.m. Nov. 16 at Junction City Elementary.

* 5:30 p.m. Nov. 23 at the courthouse.

* 6 p.m. Nov. 30 in Perryville, but no place has been set yet.

* 6 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Forkland Community Center.

The county is still working on other cost-saving measures, such as implementation of a prescription drug plan for the jail inmates. Providing medication for inmates is currently a costly requirement.

Wilder said that he still believes a payroll tax increase may be the only way to save the county from its fiscal crisis.

The county has spent down its surplus in the past two years after the state, in its own cost-saving measure, yanked juvenile inmates from the jail. Boyle and other county jails were being paid $100 per juvenile per day. The jail still houses adult state prisoners, but is paid $26 per inmate, per day.

Wilder isn't sure how much profit is made from housing state inmates, but noted that they do provide labor to the recycling center and elsewhere, defraying the cost of housing them.

Unfunded state mandates, Wilder said, have put additional strain on the budget. Add to that shrinking state transportation funds.

The county will do only one major road project this year, widening and paving Buster Pike, but it has other roads and bridges that need work. It doesn't look like the county will be able to do any road work next year.

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