Members of the Richmond City Commission, Berea City Council and Madison County Fiscal Court all met at the Madison County Extension Office to discuss several matters involving all three governments, such as the animal shelter and county airport.

City of Richmond Mayor Robert Blythe, who hosted the meeting, said that it was the city's idea to call this meeting to not necessarily finalize matters, but involve all parties for open discussion.

"It is easy for me to call (Berea) Mayor (Bruce) Fraley and us talk about what we think one of us feels, or what we think a council member feels, and I thought it would be good for all of us to be in the same room to hear the same things at the same time and walk away from this having the feeling or knowledge that we are on the same page," he said.

Central Kentucky Regional Airport

First on the agenda were George Wyatt and Chuck Conley of the Madison County Airport Board to discuss further the board's request for a bond in the total amount of $4.5 million in order to complete projects that will update the Central Kentucky Regional Airport.

The two board members have also spoken before each government body previously but with the possibility of a "daunting" figure of $1.5 million on each government's budget, council, court and commission members alike wanted to hear more of a financial breakdown from the board representatives.

The $4.5 million for upgrades would be split between the three government entities.

With the funding, the facility will construct three new T-Hangars costing an estimated $1.2 million, make airport utility improvements for fire suppression and drainage costing approximately $1 million, build a new terminal that costs $1.95 million and have $300,000 in contingencies.

Fraley spoke first about the matter saying that he personally would like to receive a detailed financial plan from the board, along with the projected revenue stream and its ability to retire the debt on the bond issue.

"In my last conversation with George for all three governments to see what we are getting into is some kind of detailed financial plan on how this will roll out," he said. "We know the total amount of $4.5 million, but how will that affect each one of us when we bond it."

Wyatt reported some revenue projections including hangar rentals totaling around $90,000 to $108,000 yearly, leasing of instructional space in the terminal to EKU bringing in $30,000, $2,000 to $8,000 in fuel flowage and around $12,000 in additional revenue from a cafe that is designed in the project plans.

"That revenue will not pay back the bond in total," he said. "This is, as I have said, an investment in the economic development and growth of Madison County."

Conely reminded the government officials that the $4.5 million bond includes airport utility projects at a $1 million rate, and therefore, if the board obtained a grant from the Bluegrass Area Development Group, that money would come out of the bond issue making the governments pay only $3.5 million.

"We have done everything we can to alleviate all the debt that we can going on to this," he said of the originally $8 million project.

Richmond City Commissioner Jason Morgan asked if there was anyway that the project can be paired down so that the total bond isn't $4.5 million.

The pair explained that there were some ways to scale back in not building as much on, but explained that if the airport wanted or needed to expand later on, it would cost more than it would now to do so.

All three entities agreed to have both mayors and the county judge meet as well as their finance directors and treasurers after receiving detailed finance plans from the airport board.

Madison County Animal Shelter

At Richmond's last workshop meeting in May, the commissioners discussed a bill from the county for their share of maintaining the animal shelter, which both cities and the county utilize, asking if they were being provided the services they were in fact paying for.

The two cities and the county all pay towards the shelter, but each at different rates. The county pays 65%, Richmond 25% and Berea 10%.

In a budget breakdown provided by the county for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the fiscal court would pay $210,816.03, Richmond $81,083.09 and $32,433.24 for the city of Berea.

According to Colleen Chaney, the county deputy judge/executive, neither city has paid their portion of their bill which were sent to them in February of this year.

In the previous Richmond workshop meeting, several commissioners and the city's police chief noted that there have been instances in which they have called for animal control officers and no one has responded.

Rob Minerich, the Richmond's city manager, referenced "several calls" that the city has made regarding a loose pitbull, in which the county didn't respond.

Chaney explained that a lot of times, the county would need a court order to go within city limits to collect vicious animals mandated by KRS statute.

She explained that legally, the county is responsible for housing strays (including those without vaccination or tags), providing a county wide dog licensing program, quarantining animals as a result of a citation violation and any holding requests by a court order.

In another state statute, it requires that even during on call hours at the shelter (before 8 a.m. and after 4:40 p.m.) that from sundown to sunup, no one is able to pick up animals.

"There are legally some things that we just cannot do," she said.

Judge/ Executive Reagan Taylor said that financially, with the ongoing drug epidemic and mandates of what the county shall maintain, it is making them dive deep into the things that they don't have to provide.

"It is all for the betterment of our taxpayers," he said. "We are looking to see, the easy thing to do would be to run in there and say, 'Oh we are running out of money, there are these things costing money, let's just raise taxes,' but we are looking at alternative ways.

"... We are looking deeper into the law to see what we shall do, and what we may do and those are the things we are looking into and this is one of those things that we have found… we are just looking for some help."

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623.

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