Fiscal Court approves $116,000 in COVID relief payments
Woodford Fiscal Court Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a list of 34 businesses that had applied for federal CARES Act funds and paying them a total of $116,000. The Woodford County Food and Beverage Relief Fund, passed late last year by the court, made up to $7,500 available to restaurants and bars located in the unincorporated parts of the county and up to $2,000 for restaurants and bars in Versailles and Midway. Since then, Magistrate William Downey (Dist. 5), who authored the relief fund legislation, and others have worked to inform businesses of the program, and before the court’s meeting, the court’s Budget and Finance Committee approved the list. Treasurer Sabra Garman said if all of the businesses that applied to the program had been approved, the total would have been $122,000. Downey said the committee reviewed all the applications and some were unfinished, but that it’s possible that some of those will be approved in the future. The relief fund made up to $150,000 available to assist restaurants and bars hurt by the pandemic and efforts to slow it. After the vote, Judge-Executive James Kay congratulated the city councils of Midway and Versailles and the two mayors for passing similar programs last year. Per diem for prisoners to increase The court unanimously approved a motion to approve a deal between the Woodford County Detention Center and the U.S. Marshals Service that will nearly double per diem rates for housing and transporting federal prisoners for the next three years. The rate for housing them will increase from $32 per day to $60 and the rate for guarding them during transport will increase from $15 to $26. Last September, the court approved a multi-year contract with The Summerill Group, which specializes in negotiating higher per diem and transportation reimbursements from the U.S. Marshals Service. The Summerill Group was paid $42,000 for its services. In September, Summerill said the higher rate of $54 his firm was requesting would bring in an additional $382,000 annually, based on an average of 50 federal prisoners per day. Jailer Michele Rankin took part in the meeting and praised County Attorney Alan George for his work on the deal. George said the county’s reimbursement rates hadn’t increased since the mid-1990s. Appointments The court considered and unanimously approved several appointments by Kay: Debra Shockley was reappointed for a two-year term on the the Architectural Advisory Review Board. Tim Tierney was reappointed for a four-year term to the Board of Adjustment, which he chairs. Floyd Raglin was appointed for a four-year term on the Agricultural Advisory Review Board (and Kay said Raglin would be the first African-American on that board) John Wilhoit (of southern Woodford County and not Sheriff Johnny Wilhoit, Kay noted) and Sue Van Patten were appointed to three-year terms to the Woodford County Extension District Board. Kay also swore in Cierra Spaulding and Jo Ann Muir to the Woodford County Human Rights Commission. Spaulding said she looked forward to working for more equitable rights for everybody and Muir said she will do whatever she could to help people in the place she’s called home all her life. Rural Broadband The other matter discussed during the Budget and Finance Committee’s meeting was a plan to improve rural broadband service. The court followed the committee’s lead and approved a motion authorizing county officials to work with the Bluegrass Area Development District to begin applying for federal grants and Kay to sign the necessary documents. Kay said GIS Coordinator Kenneth Johns will continue to assist in the effort. EDA contract The court unanimously approved a six-month extension for a contract with Lucas Witt of MWM Consulting LLC to serve as the county’s economic development consultant (and executive director of the Economic Development Authority). The Midway City Council approved the contract in its last meeting of 2020 and the Versailles City Council is expected to follow suit. Under the deal, Witt’s firm is paid $1,600 a month by the county, $2,100 a month by the City of Versailles and $1,050 by the City of Midway.