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Fiscal Court gets one step closer to 2014 budget

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By Ben Hyatt

The Harrison County Fiscal Court is one step closer to finalizing its budget for 2014 after discussing county salaries.
During the second budget workshop, which was held last Tuesday, April 2, the fiscal court took a good look at salaries for county employees.
However, much time was spent discussing issues brought up by the fiscal court about the Economic Development budget and request for increase in pay for its director.
Due to certain questions being raised about pay increases for the EDA director, EDA chairman Frazer Lebus made an appearance to explain the reasoning behind the request for a raise.
According to Lebus, the EDA board, which is comprised of both city and county appointed members, is overall pleased with the work that director Darlene Bussell has done so far.
Lebus gave several examples of the successes that Bussell has brought forth in her short time in Harrison County including the sale of two properties in the business park, playing a major role in keeping EZ Pack in Cynthiana, beginning the development of a welding academy and working closely with the big businesses in Harrison County such a Bullard.
On the counter side, some fiscal court members felt that some of the ideas and closings on deals were done or in the making before Bussell was hired.
Lebus also gave statistics on how underpaid Bussell is compared to similar and surrounding counties for the same position.
According to Lebus, Scott County pays its director nearly $67,500 plus a contribution from the Chamber of Commerce.
Bourbon County, according to Lebus, pays a part-time employee $30,000.
Bussell, a county employee, currently makes $30,500 and  benefits, on top of any incentives that are budgeted in the EDA’s budget.
Bussell requested that her pay be increased by 10 percent for next year, which is over 8 percent higher than the overall county pay increase.
“I think she is different when it comes to pay,” said Lebus. “She is unlike any other county employee in the fact of what kind of work that she does.”
Despite the praise from Lebus, some fiscal court members were not ready to sign-on to the increase in pay.
Several members reminded Lebus of several conflicts that have been created since Bussell was hired.
The fiscal court members also felt that since the EDA had already voted to pay Bussell up to $6,000 a year for traveling from her home in Frankfort to work, that there was no need to increase her pay at this time.
Magistrate Jeff Brunker said that no county employee this year was asking for a raise of the same magnitude.
“We have some workers who have been here 20 years and they are very qualified in their job and they are not asking for this kind of a raise,” said Brunker. “She has not even been here a year and she wants 10 percent.”
The court ultimately declined the request for the 10 percent increase in pay, but did agree that she should receive the same pay increase of 1.7 percent as other salary paid employees for 2013.
All hourly paid employees will receive a 50 cent per hour increase in pay.
As for the EDA budget, three court members, Bradley Copes, Lutz and Henson voted against the budget.
However, everyone agreed that any sale of land in the business park should not be budgeted toward any special projects, but be used to make principle payments on the remaining debt on the park.
As for my thought on the issue, I think that the fiscal court did a good job in doing their homework before making a decision.
I wont say whether I agree or disagree with their choice, but I do think that times are still hard and money is tight.
I will also say that I am for the success of Bussell due to the fact that if she succeeds in her job, Harrison County and the city will benefit greatly from it.
Any jobs she may bring into the community or helping educate a better workforce only helps us address the issues of unemployment and decreasing tax money from business.
We have to remember that not all decisions are easily made, but our elected officials have done their job and I think we have to honor their decision and make the best out of it.
That is why we elect them.