County will avoid big budget cuts

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By Molly Haines

As discussion on the Owen County Fiscal Court budget continues, Owen County Judge-Executive Carolyn Keith said no major cuts will be seen.

The fiscal court met for its regularly scheduled workshop April 27 and finished looking over the proposed budget. 

Some possible changes were discussed during the workshop, including cutting back the park operation by $500.

“I don’t think it will affect the way they run things,” Keith said. “The whole reason we’re making these cuts is because we were having trouble making the budget. We don’t really have any extra fluff that we can cut out of our budget so we have to take small things here and there.”

The court also discussed taking $1,000 out of cultures and festivals to place into community action.

Some money allotted for festivals and cultures programs helps pay for the Sweet Owen festival, which is held each year in September.

Keith said if the court chooses to take $1,000 out of cultures and festivals, it could help people who have lost jobs and are in need of assistance.

“We’re looking to do this because of the increased need for help in the county,” Keith said. “So many people who have held jobs their entire lives and never been unemployed have been laid off. Because they’ve never been put in that situation before and didn’t know what to do, many were coming to community action for assistance.”

Keith said community action primarily helps people who need help paying for electric or heating bills.

Asking for donations to help pay for Sweet Owen Day could be a future possibility, Keith said.

Because the county budget is an ordinance, a first and second reading must be held before the court can adopt the proposed budget.

According to a KRS statute, the court must have a first reading by June 1.

Following the first reading of the proposed budget ordinance, the county judge-executive can make any changes to the budget as directed by the fiscal court.

The second reading must be advertised and a summary of the proposed ordinance must be published no less than seven days or more than 21 days prior to the adoption of the ordinance.

A second reading and adoption of the proposed budget must be done by July 1.

During its workshop, the court heard from three different representatives regarding health care for county employees.

Representatives from Sharp Benefits out of Pendleton County, Scott Brown with the Kentucky Association of Counties, and representatives from Insuramax out of Louisville spoke to the court.

Keith said the county’s current health care contract expires this year, but the court is not expected to make a decision until this fall.

The court held an emergency meeting prior to the workshop to discuss the courthouse air-conditioning unit.

Keith said the unit went out about a month ago.

Three bids were submitted to the court for work on the unit.

The court accepted the lowest of the three bids, which was from Harshaw Trane at $20,672.