• John McGary, Woodford Sun News Editor

Court plans storm clean-up efforts

In the wake of Friday’s storm that toppled countless trees and kept many without power over the weekend, Woodford Fiscal Court spent much of itsTuesday meeting deciding what to do next.

Members voted unanimously to formally ask Woodford Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler and County Attorney Alan George to produce a request for proposal (RFP) for debris clean-up.

The motion was passed after Chandler informed the court that Friday’s storms (see front and back pages), which struck Woodford County the hardest, likely wouldn’t cause enough damage state-wide for a federal disaster declaration. Among the losses that could be claimed by a public entity (local governments and taxing districts) were $11,000 worth of vaccines at the county Health Department lost due to a lack of power, he said.

If the $6.3 million state threshold for public damage isn’t met, as Chandler expects, the county will have to foot the bill. He explained that Kentucky Utility’s damages will not be included in the total because the utility is a private company.

Before the vote, Judge-Executive John Coyle strongly urged the court to support Chandler’s suggested motion in order to get bids quickly for help cleaning up right of ways before school begins Aug. 9.

“We can’t have little children standing out in front of their home between a pile of brush, waiting for a bus,” Coyle said. “This is an emergency, something that was not planned and we didn’t ask for, that hit Woodford County harder than anyplace in the Commonwealth, and sometimes we have to bite the bullet and pay for things and get them straightened out sooner rather than later.”

Coyle and Chandler agreed that the RFP should include language asking for the company or companies to make three passes around the county to pick up vegetative debris brought curbside. Roads Engineer Bo Wilson, at his first meeting, said while he’s down three employees, he believed his crews and inmates from the Woodford County Detention Center could do at least some of the work. Wilson received the unanimous approval of the court to rent a wood chipper for two weeks and purchase two chainsaws.

Magistrate Duncan Gardiner (Dist. 6) pointed out that sending the RFP does not mean the county has to strike a deal with contractors.

Officials agreed that whatever can be done by county employees will mean that much less will have to be paid to private companies.

Treasurer Sabra Garman said Coyle and Fiscal Court must send a letter to the state Department of Local Government asking for an exception to the 65/35 spending law. The law is designed to ensure that during the fourth and final year of county office-holders’ terms, they don’t spend all of the fiscal year’s budget in the first six months and leave their successors without enough resources.

Chandler and George warned repeatedly that county workers, however well-intentioned, are not allowed to pick up debris on private property and that plenty of politicians and government employees have gone to jail for such things.

The court also asked Recycling Director Sherri McDaniel to continue accepting debris for no charge and stay open until 6 p.m. from Monday to Saturdaythrough Aug. 4. A motion to allow overtime for Recycling Department employees passed unanimously.

Discussion of various storm-related matters consumed nearly an hour, after which Chandler received words of praise from the court and a round of applause.

Tax rates likely to remain same

The court voted unanimously to allow the first reading of an ordinance that would maintain the 7 percent property tax rate. The court could have increased the property tax rate by 4 percent, to 7.28 percent, after a public hearing.

Troy Pike rezoning

The court unanimously approved a zone change request for three tracts of land at 4395 Troy Pike totaling more than 240 acres. The measure had already received a public hearing and was recommended for approval by the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission, which ruled the zone change is in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan.

It would rezone 120.777 acres from A-1 (agriculture) to A-2, 23.231 acres from A-2 to rural residential and 99.546 acres from A-2 to residual farmland.

Attorney Hank Graddy IV, an opponent of the move, was there, but did not speak.

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