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Fiscal Court starts budget workshops

The Clark County Fiscal Court opened public discussion of the 2018-19 fiscal year budget Wednesday with the first of at least two workshop meetings.

Clark County, along with nearly every other county and municipality in the state, is facing the possibility of having to make a lump payment to help support the state pension system. For Clark County, the estimate is about $600,000.

Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham said he is planning for the worst.

“In putting this budget together, we were informed by (the Department of Local Government) to include the higher amounts for retirement,” he said. “That’s throughout all of our budget.”

According to DLG, county contributions for non-hazardous employees will increase slightly more than 28 percent while hazardous duty employees will jump nearly 48 percent.

Because the pension reform bill appears dead, so too is a companion bill which would allow governments to phase in payments.

Branham said the $600,000 increase will be included in the budget, though the number may change depending on what legislators do in the closing days of the session or any special sessions.

“We know we’ve got the added expense of retirement… and that will put our budget way out of whack,” Magistrate Daniel Konstantopoulos said.

“And it’s not our fault,” Magistrate Sheila McCord said. “We didn’t make this mess.”

The court also heard budget presentations from Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation and the Generations Center for the coming fiscal year.

Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Lewis requested $269,924 from the county, approximately a $12,000 increase from the current fiscal year. Proposed capital projects for the coming year include resurfacing one of the outdoor basketball courts and making repairs to the pool equipment at the natatorium.

The City of Winchester also contributes to Parks and Rec’s budget, and the department itself is projected to generate about $280,000 in revenue this year, Lewis said.

The department will pay off its credit debt this year, Lewis said, which was one of the major issues in the department’s audit.

The court also fielded requests from the Generations Center of $36,000 and $24,000 for indigent assistance and services. Both amounts were unchanged from the current budget.

State law requires the judge-executive to prepare a budget and present it to the fiscal court by May 1. After a successful first reading, the budget goes to the state local finance officer for approval. The officer may make changes to the budget, which can not be altered by the court for a second reading.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or call 859-759-0051.

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