Magistrate voices concern over high paving costs

Published 1:00 pm Thursday, March 14, 2019

STANFORD — Several Lincoln County road projects could be delayed or canceled after the fiscal court received a bid too high for its budget.

The Allen Company, Inc., which specializes in providing asphalt paving products and services, submitted a bid to the Lincoln County Fiscal Court and company spokesman Shane Morgan was at Tuesday morning’s meeting as a late addition to the agenda.

Judge Jim W. Adams Jr. introduced Morgan to the court, magistrates David Faulkner, Jeff Ruckel and Joe Stanley, and asked if anyone had questions for him.

Faulkner did not hesitate at posing two quick questions.

“How firm is that bid that we received? Is that negotiable?” the District 1 magistrate asked.

Morgan responded, saying the company had taken the price that was presented to the Transportation Cabinet and “what we’ve done is given you guys a 5 percent discount.”

Faulkner did hesitate briefly after Morgan’s response before stating, “I don’t want to shoot the messenger, but you know it’s 30+ percent higher than what we paid last year per ton.”

“I understand that,” Morgan answered, adding that there were “several factors that go into this (bid),” including fluctuating crude prices.

“We paid $68/ton last year and they’re wanting $87/ton this year,” Faulkner said.

“The position that puts us in … Not me personally, because I live on a state highway, but the people I represent. I’m going to have to cut services to them as far as road repairs, amount of blacktopping we can do,” he continued. “It’s a negative impact on the citizens, the taxpayers that expect us to take care of the roads when we get that kind of an increase. It’s kind of the same thing we went through with insurance last year. I don’t know .. That’s the reason I asked if there is room for negotiation, because it’s killing us.”

“It would be remiss of this court not to make note of the fact and to let the citizens know why some of the things we might have indicated that we were going to do in the past … Everybody has projects they want done and last year we said there are certain things that have to wait. Funds are limited, so let’s look at it next year. Well, next year’s here now and we’re looking at a 35 percent increase, so we’re going to have to say to those same people, I’m not going to get it this year. They need to understand it’s not actually any decision the court has made, just what we’re faced with financially.”

Adams said Bluegrass Contracting had leased Tommy Owens’ asphalt plant and that had brought asphalt prices down, but now The Allen Company, Inc., owns the plant. Allen had negotiated to finish work not completed by Bluegrass Contracting at the lower price.

“They are the only game in town,” said Adams. “We can hire another contractor to do work, but if we do any blacktopping we’re going to have to get asphalt from them.”

Magistrates discuss 911 funding

The recent bankruptcy filing by Windstream, one of the fee collectors on Lincoln land lines, prompted a discussion of 911 funding.

“As of yesterday, they had not paid,” said Adams. “We voted last week to borrow monies to operate with. That tells you where our 911 is as far as financing is concerned.”

Kentucky Supreme Court and Court of Appeals action cleared the way for the fiscal court to force water companies in the county to collect fees placed on water meters to help fund Bluegrass 911. On March 1, 2018, the fee went into effect, and a lawsuit followed.

“As you all know, we had a Supreme Court ruling where we could put it on water meters, so we asked that the water companies collect the $4 a month for the water meters, then the cities of Stanford, Crab Orchard and Hustonville filed suit, saying that the fiscal court did not have the right to force them to collect the fees,” said Adams. “So that’s where we are with the lawsuit.”

County Attorney Daryl Day said the lawsuit, which has a court date of March 22, could take years.

“You’ve got Circuit Court and then the Court of Appeals … It could probably be 5-6 years away. We’ll have to find a way to fund 911 until then.”

Fiscal court addressed several issues as well at the March 12 meeting, including the approval of the Lincoln County Conservation District budget.

“We’re going to ask for the same amount that we had last year, if we can possibly do it, which is $57,500,” District Supervisor Kenny Stamper said. “Even though we’re doing a lot more programs this time because of the weather and the rain and that type stuff, we’re going to bite the bullet and do something. We’re going to make it work some way or the other.”

Before the court approved the budget, Adams praised the Conservation District for its works.

“They’ve done quite a lot of work for us down through the years,” he said. “They did a lot of reconstruction on the Fishing Creek area. They have a lot of programs they do, awards banquets for the kids at schools and middle school. They do a lot of worthwhile programs.”

Stamper wasn’t on hand to just ask for money, though, he was also there to hand over a check. The check, in the amount of $7,500, was part of an Environmental Grant awarded by the state. Stamper requested that the money go toward the county’s Dead Animal Removal program, which is for farm animals only.

The court also accepted $2,901 in excess fees from the Lincoln County Clerk’s office. The fees were from 2017. County Clerk Sonny Spoonamore says approximately $3,000 is set back each year to cover anything that comes in late, and that it had been overlooked.

Two projects were approved to receive funds from the fiscal court, with Adams requesting a matching fund of $25,000 for the Lincoln County Sanitation District, Phase 2, project and a $5,000 contribution toward the Hustonville Ruritan Park.

“It’s on the west side and the project includes some 400 homes and businesses,” Adams said of the Sanitation District’s Phase 2. “It’s a normal fit for project that’s already completed. I’m going to ask the same thing of the Industrial Board out of general fund.”

The first leg of the project started in Junction City and included Hustonville. The $9-million project included 600 homes and businesses and 26 miles of sewer line. The projected cost of Phase 2 is $4.9-million.

The $5,000 that Adams requested for the Hustonville Ruritan Park is for renovation of the area. He said Hustonville Mayor Marc Spivey had met with him and asked for the money to help with the park improvement.

“The Ruritan Club is almost defunct now, with only a few members,” said Adams. “They are going to transfer the property to the city. We typically take care of mowing, which is $2,000 a year. If city takes this back over, I don’t think we’ll have to contribute toward the mowing.”

Adams added that the fiscal court sets aside community development funds each year in its budget.

In other business, the court approved the following;

* Appropriation transfer from General Fund Other County Properties Building/Maintenance of $1,000 to South Lincoln Memorial Community Center for building supplies.

* Payment of $5,000 to Hopkins Concrete Foundations – for sidewalks.

* First reading of zone map amendment for Paul Dariano concerning property in new industrial park off KY 1770. He asks for zoning to be changed from industrial to commercial.

* Lee Ann Smith’s appointment as applicant agent for FEMA. She will be in charge of signing all appropriate paperwork documenting damages.

Before adjourning for the day, the court opened sealed bids on mowing and trimming of First Southern Veterans Park, a hay lease on 100 acres at Logan-Hubble Park and a land lease on 40-acre tract off U.S. 27 on Workhouse Road.

Kendall Johnson Mowing got the mowing and trimming contract for First Southern Veterans Park with his bid of $17,949 ($15,000 mowing/$2,949 trimming).

Andrew Lasure got the 3-year hay lease on the 100 acres at Logan-Hubble Park with a bid of $8/acre or $2,400 over the three years.

Ethan Jones got the 3-year land lease on the 40-acre Workhouse Road property with a bid of $151/acre or $6,040 for three years.