By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer
The Madison County Fiscal Court voted to approve the county clerk’s 2013 budget, which includes plans to redesign and enlarge the Berea clerk’s office in the Berea Police and Municipal Building.
The motion passed 3-0 (Magistrate Roger Barger was not present).
The improvement project should begin in the spring, which will make the space ADA-compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act) and will provide more room for customers and the three clerks employed there, said Madison County Clerk Kenny Barger.
Plans also have been drawn out for several phases of improvements at the Madison County Courthouse in Richmond, but Barger said the Berea upgrades took priority.
“We’re still servicing the citizens of Madison County,” he said. And with so many other county departments in need of money, “I couldn’t see spending that right now.”
Any money remaining at the end of his term would be returned to the county, he added.
Barger plugged in a budgetary number of $80,000 for the project, but expects to spend considerably less than that after receiving bids from contractors.
The clerk’s office produced $500,000 in revenue for the county in 2012, Barger reported, and “we expect to make a little more than that in 2013.” He also projected a $42,000 surplus for the 2013 budget.
“He has the money, and he’s not asking the fiscal court for it,” said Judge/Executive Kent Clark of Barger.
The Berea City Council approved the modifications, Barger said. “They’ve been very gracious over the years to provide that space to the county at no charge.”
Improvements to the Richmond courthouse will be pushed back to the end of the year or possibly into 2014, he said.
In other business:
• The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has authorized the use of state funds to improve Old Wilderness Trail, starting at the Glenn Marshall Elementary School entrance.
The county had originally received $1.68 million from the state to install a traffic light and build a turn lane onto Robert R. Martin Bypass next to the elementary school.
“I always ask for a little more than we really need,” Clark said. “We were able to do it for $600,000 … so we had some money left.”
The remaining balance will be used to widen Old Wilderness Trail to a minimum of 16 feet and to install ditches on each side of the road, he said. And with permission from nearby landowners, the county also will straighten out a couple of “bad places” on the road to “provide easier access to the bypass.”
• The court heard the first reading of an ordinance that would amend a land-use regulation. The planning and zoning commission held a public hearing Nov. 15 and determined it was necessary to divide the industrial zones into two zones — light industry and heavy industry, Clark said.
“We don’t have a whole lot of that in Madison County but over the last year we’ve had two instances where this has come up,” the judge/executive said. “Instead of having the same zone classifications for any industry … we’re looking at development plans to see if (new industry) fits in with everything we’ve done over the last 15 years.”
Planning and Development Administrator Duane Curry was not present to give more details, but zoning specifications regarding light/heavy industry pertain to square footage and several other factors, explained Francette Durbin, administrative assistant in the Madison County judge/executive’s office.
• The court approved the second reading of an ordinance designed to cut down on the amount of stolen metal, jewelry and other items that are bought for resale or pawn.
“No such purchase shall be made unless the seller shall present his or her driver’s license or other government identification card,” the ordinance reads.
The county copied the ordinances recently approved by both Berea and Richmond concerning pawnbrokers, scrap metal dealers, jewelry store and secondhand store owners so “the same rules and regulations apply to everybody whether you live in Richmond, Berea or the county.”
Magistrate Billy Ray Hughes said he spoke with a business person who suggested that all transactions be noncash. “If these dealers had to pay with a check, it provides more credibility,” he added.
Clark suggested they discuss the recommendation and amend the ordinance later.
Solid Waste Coordinator Scott Tussey said a law was passed by the General Assembly last year that mandates dealers pay for copper with a check.
• The court approved the second reading of an ordinance that will move the task of issuing business licenses to the county’s planning and development office, instead of the finance department.
• The county will sponsor a grant program that will provide weatherization, ADA-accessibility and improvements to eight homes off Irvine Road near the Bluegrass Army Depot.
“We’re dealing with mostly senior citizens, disabled individuals and veterans,” said Patrick Kirby, a representative from the Community and Economic Development Association, the organization that will administer the grant.
Although there was only enough money to help eight homes, several residents near Greens Crossing Road have been referred to Habitat for Humanity and Kentucky River Foothills for additional help.
The grant program calls for a 20-percent match, “but there are a lot of things we can work with as far as the electric companies and stuff on that 20-percent match,” Clark said. “So I really don’t see the county being out any money in sponsoring this grant … any time you can help somebody that needs it, I think it’s a good thing.”
• The sheriff’s budget was removed from the agenda because “we could not get it ready for today,” Clark said. However, he will ask the magistrates to meet later in the week to get the budget approved, which must be done by Jan. 21.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.