By Seth Littrell
Register News Writer
MADISON COUNTY —
The Madison Fiscal Court voted Monday morning to increase the sheriff’s department’s 2014 budget by about $300,000.
According to Sheriff Mike Coyle, a large portion of the increase will be used to buy replacement patrol cars costing about $34,000 each.
Coyle said the department has selected vehicles with V6 engines which have a better fuel economy and will last longer.
Several vehicles in the department’s fleet require heavy maintenance because of age and wear, and the situation is becoming problematic because the sheriff’s office is responding to more calls than usual.
“We have a memorandum with the Kentucky State Police recognizing them as the primary call taker in the county,” Coyle said.
However, he said that with the number of KSP troopers in the area decreasing, sheriff’s deputies have been asked to respond to calls withing the county when the state police can’t.
“Its embarrassing when it takes a while to respond to a call and a deputy’s car breaks down,” Coyle said.
The sheriff’s office and KSP also have an agreement that deputies will cover all calls in the county between midnight and 6 a.m. The unreliable vehicles create issues with response times, especially for domestic disputes where two officers are required to show up, Coyle said.
Also included in the increase is money to make two part-time court security officers full-time employees at $10 an hour. The officers would be given benefits at an annual cost of about $20,000 a year, and both of the officers would need training costing $12,000 total. The hires will bring the number of full-time court officers to seven, one for each judge in the county, Coyle said.
The budget also includes an across-the-board 2-percent raise for the sheriff’s employees, which County Judge/Executive Kent Clark said was what other county employees received.
Magistrate Larry Combs said he wasn’t informed when the increase was initially discussed, and he didn’t know anything about it. Clark said he tried to get in touch with Combs on Sunday but was unable to reach him. Clark also said the increase was drafted very recently, and that Monday morning was the first time anyone had seen it in print.
Combs was the only magistrate to vote against the increase, saying he had several questions he wanted answered before he could support it.
The sheriff’s department has 43 employees who, with the KSP, cover the unincorporated parts of the county where more than 40,000 individuals live.
In other business, the court:
• Heard an end-of-year report from Duane Curry with Madison County Planning and Code Enforcement Administrator.
• Approved new subdivision regulations which require developers to put the final layer of asphalt down before their plat can be approved.
• Combs announced that Berea residents may now test for their drivers licenses and permits there instead of coming to Richmond.
Seth Littrell can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6623.