• John McGary, Woodford Sun News Editor

Court overestimated cost of special election

In the packet given to each member of Woodford Fiscal Court Tuesday was a Sept. 17 letter to the Woodford County Board of Education showing the court overestimated the costs of the June 26 school tax special election by nearly 50 percent.

An open records request by the Sun received earlier in the day showed while the court had requested the school board to pay $75,250 for the election, actual expenses came at $50,889.94. (The school board voted instead to pay the county $50,000.)

The letter from Judge-Executive John Coyle, with an itemized list of expenses on the back, asked the schools board to pay the additional $889.94. Later in the meeting, County Attorney Alan George said Superintendent Scott Hawkins had contacted him about the letter, and had questions about approximately $7,000 of the bill.

Before that, Magistrate Duncan Gardiner (Dist. 6) pointed out the discrepancy between the county’s request for $75,250 and the actual cost of the election. Gardiner said he’d received calls before the special election from constituents upset over the court’s estimate. (At the time, some in favor of the 5.5 cent property tax hike to pay for a new high school suggested county officials opposing the tax hike deliberately overstated the cost of the special election to make it less popular.)

“I just felt like it was important that we at least acknowledge – that I acknowledge – that the school board was much closer than we were in estimating the cost of the special election,” Gardiner said.

Coyle responded, “To the defense of myself and the financial officer and treasurer and the clerk, we followed to the ‘T’ the instructions from the court. I listened to the recording, and it was stressed, in your calculations and your estimation of the cost, ‘Figure high.’ They didn’t say, ‘Figure low,’ the court insisted that we figure high, so that when it was all in and all done, we could give them a refund. That is the reason the estimate was high.”

Jack Jouett House hemp

A crop grown when Jack Jouett was alive may be planted at the Woodford County site where he lived next March, according to Jack Jouett House Executive Director Susan Hughes. She received the court’s unanimous blessing to apply to the state Agriculture Cabinet to grow industrial hemp for fiber on a 100-square foot plot there. Costs of the application will be paid by the company that hopes to sell it, she said. Similar efforts at Kentucky historical sites like Henry Clay’s home in Lexington have been successful, with a hemp dinner there bringing in $10,000, according to Hughes.

After the meeting, Hughes said there are plenty of strings attached, from drug testing to background checks.

Road superintendent raise

Road Superintendent Bo Wilson will receive a $1,000 a month raise, backdated to August and lasting through at least the end of the year. A motion to that effect crafted by the Road Committee noted that his actual position is that of foreman, and that he’s been performing the duties as supervisor of the department since County Road Engineer Buan Smith resigned in June. The promotion and raise are contingent upon passing a test. The motion passed 7 to 0, with Magistrate Mary Ann Gill (Dist. 7) saying she prefers to first discuss personnel matters in executive session.

Duties as county road engineer that involve dealings with the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission have been outsourced to an engineering firm the last few months. The new judge-executive and fiscal court will decide whether to continue that arrangement or hire a certified road engineer.

Wilson has been praised for his department’s work cleaning up after the July 20 storm and Aug. 11 flooding in Millville.

EMS station

EMS Director Freeman Bailey discussed flood-related problems at the soon-to-be opened EMS station off East Leestown Road in Midway.

He said rain over the past few days revealed leaks in the building, which was obtained in a swap with the Woodford Fire District in return for four acres of land in the west edge of the county park where a new fire station will be built. A trench will be built around the building to steer runoff away and cost less than $1,000, he said.

Bailey also received the court’s unanimous blessing to pay a total of about $80 per month for satellite television and a WiFi hotspot.

Later in the meeting, George called the land swap “historic” and praised assistant county attorney Phyllis Mattingly for her work in the title search and closing, which occurred Monday.

Appointments

Three Coyle nominations were unanimously confirmed: Randal Bohannon to the Planning Commission, Lindy Huber to the Agriculture Advisory Review Committee and John Davis to the Northeast Woodford Water District Board. All positions are four-year terms.

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