Traugott announces budget cuts, cancels summer events
Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott unveiled nearly $500,000 in budget cuts Tuesday and told the Versailles City Council he was canceling public events through Sept. 1 – unless the COVID-19 pandemic fades more quickly than expected. The budget cuts come as the city prepares to see payroll tax receipts, which provide the majority of its non-water and sewer budget, drop drastically in the final quarter of fiscal year 2020, which ends June 30. Among the cuts: • $50,000: public safety escrow account • $10,000: professional/technical fees (in part by delaying the long-planned Precinct Project) • $15,000: repairs and maintenance • $2,500: Woodford Tourist Commission • $10,000: police phone/radio/internet spending • $16,000: police computer network maintenance • $40,000: fire department part-time salaries • $10,000: road salt Traugott said the city’s rainy day fund was at about $4.5 or $4.6 million and revenues were on track to exceed projections before the pandemic hit. He said he was exploring personnel reductions in a way that would save the city money without reducing services or harming employees, who would be eligible for unemployment and other payments. Traugott and Councilmember Mike Coleman, who heads up the city’s annual 4th of July festivities, said there was still a chance the city could hold the annual fireworks show at the Woodford County Park – with proper social distancing. Traugott said the downtown portion of the day’s events will not take place. Coleman said he planned to talk with the fireworks contractor the following day to get a drop-dead date on when the city would have to cancel the show or pay a penalty. They said Labor Day was another possible date for the event. COVID-19 update Woodford Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler briefed the council on the latest developments regarding the pandemic. He said last week his department accepted a total of 100 gallons of hand sanitizer from Brown Forman and Castle & Key distilleries as well as personal protective equipment. Fire Chief Brian Wainscott spoke about one of his employees who’d showed symptoms of COVID-19. He was given a test and 10 fellow employees, including Wainscott, went into isolation. He said the test came back negative – three days later. Chandler said government agencies paying overtime due to employee quarantines are eligible for reimbursement by FEMA. 911 fee passes Early in the half-hour meeting, the council became the second governmental body in the county to pass an ordinance instituting a fee that will be added to property taxes to pay for 911 service. The measure also does away with the $3.50 monthly fee for landline phones. Woodford Fiscal Court is expected to vote on the ordinance at next Tuesday’s meeting. (The fee structure and other details of the ordinance are in the story about Monday night’s meeting of the Midway City Council on this page.) The proposal was discussed at length during a public hearing last Thursday, April 16. Traugott said there was one submitted question, from a person who said people presently paying the monthly $3.50 landline phone fee that will be dropped under the ordinance will still pay more. That increase, from $42 to $59 annually for residences, is 29 percent. Asked about the 911 program’s budget, Versailles Police Chief Mike Murray said it’s $831,000 for fiscal year 2020 (which ends June 30) and projected to be $890,000 to $900,000 next year. Some of that increase, and future increases, will be related to new technology, he said. Councilmember Fred Siegelman said it was important to remember that in “many states,” 911 callers don’t get an answer. Versailles Fire Chief Brian Wainscott said as an alternative, some counties have gone to regional call centers, or had Kentucky State Police pick up their 911 duties. Councilmember Laura Dake reiterated her concern that language involving the appointment of a 911 director is vague. Dake said she’d received a question via Facebook asking why the the $59 fee most people will pay was chosen, rather than $35. Traugott replied that math doesn’t lie, and the $35 figure would be inadequate unless the ordinance retained the $3.50 monthly landline fee.