20-cent pay raise in the county mix

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By Becky Barnes

There was no discussion of the county’s draft budget during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Harrison County Fiscal Court.

County Judge-Executive Alex Barnett told magistrates a copy of the draft budget was in their packets and if they had questions they could stop by his office.

However, when questioned following the meeting about county salaries and raises, Barnett said there is a 20-cent across the board raise, which will be considerably less than the previously proposed 5 percent raise. But, Magistrate Jeff Brunker said his draft budget still contains the 5 percent raise.

Brunker suggested that if there was going to be something printed in the newspaper about the salaries, he wanted to openly debate the raises.

“I’m not for it,” Brunker said after the meeting adjourned.

Barnett asked if Brunker was contacted outside the  meeting by other magistrates regarding the salaries. He said he had, but that he was not in support of the raises.

In a telephone interview on Wednesday morning, Barnett said magistrates will be voting for a 20-cent raise for county employees. However, he said the salary portion of the budget is not specific to each employee, just a lump sum for salaries.

County treasurer Candida Wilson said she will be adjusting the budget to reflect the 20-cent raise versus the previously proposed 5 percent increase prior to the next meeting.

The 20 cent raise, Barnett said, will amount to anywhere from a .5 percent to a 2.5 percent increase.

“That’s what the majority wanted to do,” said Barnett on Wednesday. “But not all of them agreed that we should give any.”

Magistrates will vote on the issued at the May 12 meeting.

In a related matter and after-meeting discussion, Wilson said a health insurance representative with KACo provided information about a health reimbursement accounts option that could save the county considerably.

She said employees would have a higher deductible, but a debit-card-like benefit would cover the majority of that.

That issue will not have to be voted on until later in the year. Health insurance renewal is in November, she said.

In other business, the court:

•Approved naming the Handy Farm park Flat Run Veterans’ Park.

Barnett said he thought the  magistrates and Cynthiana City Commissioners agreed to name it Flat Run Heritage Park. However, magistrates countered that they recalled only the Veterans’ Park proposal.

Clyde Cockrell, a World War II veteran, told magistrates before the meeting that they all knew how he stood on the issue and he left.

However, Mark Cockrell, Clyde’s son, stayed for the meeting to support the Veterans’ Park name.

“If they hadn’t been there for us, we wouldn’t be here today,” said the younger Cockrell.

•Agreed to donate $500 to the Soldier Support Group for its May 16 Freedom Salute. Sgt. Allen Fryman and Michelle Fulton invited members of the court to the event that will be a welcome and tribute to the men and women from the local National Guard unit who returned from Afghanistan last month.

Brunker added that if they see more funds are needed to pull the event together, they should make another request to the court.

•Approved a $500 donation to the Harrison County Garden Club for the flower pot beautification project.

•Discussed the Morning Glory Road bridge.

•Heard Magistrate Dwayne Florence question the franchise commissions charged to telephone companies.

County Clerk Linda Furnish said those are established by the state Department of Revenue.

•Reappointed Avi Bear to serve on the Harrison County-Cynthiana-Berry Joint Planning Commission through April 2013.

•Agreed to a $2,000 funding request from the Harrison County Arts Council.

•Agreed to replace the air conditioning at the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office at a cost of $4,400. Thoroughbred HVAC Services will be doing the work.

•Heard Barnett report that the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife approved plans for the replacement of a bridge on McDowell Road. The bridge replacement is a 50 percent cost share with Fish and Wildlife. The county’s portion is in-kind eligible.

Barnett added that the bridge on Apple Lane may be considered next year for the same program.

•Discussed two burned-out houses in Connersville and asked County Attorney Bill Kuster to go ahead with proceedings to place a lien on the property. The county will then be able to clean the property itself.

•Approved the second and final reading of an ordinance changing the zoning classification of property owned by Allen Yoder on Carr Road to rural business. The Yoders plan to open an Amish Bulk Store on the U.S. 27 North property.

•Heard Kuster report that Commonwealth Attorney Doug Wright’s office assistants are on a state-required one-week furlough.

Magistrates suggested that they help financially if allowable.

•Met in executive session to discuss land acquisition.