Julia Roberts Goad
PIKEVILLE, Ky - In a year that the budget for the Pike County Fiscal Court has had deep cuts due to a shortage of coal severance funds, some magistrates are questioning spending money for new equipment for the county’s road department.
The Fiscal Court leases one new tandem dump truck for each of the county’s six districts annually. Although the cost of the leases went up this year, the county is guaranteed 85 percent return on the purchase price at the end of the one year lease term.
The court received bids for leases on six new 2014 dump trucks from Worldwide Equipment of Prestonsburg of $126,628 a total of $759,268 for the six trucks for the road department and leases on two trucks for the solid waste department, of $153,538 each or $307,076 total.
District Five Magistrate Hilman Dotson said since the county is struggling to balance the budget, the Court should explore the possibility of not leasing new trucks.
“If we are in such bad shape, are we going to be financially able to do these trucks this year?” Dotson asked. “We’re looking at $759,000. We have a work session Thursday to work on our budget. Would this be something that would ease some of the hurt we have in our budget?”
“We have a deficit of $3.3 million in our $35 million budget this year.,” Rutherford said. “We will still have a budget of $31 million. This is equipment we have to use for vital services. We are going to have to continue to provide services; people expect us to provide them. We have to keep our roadways and bridges safe, and keep our garbage picked up. We have to provide those services no matter what we regarding a balanced budget. We are going to have to have this equipment.”
“If we don’t have anybody to drive the trucks, if we have to lay people off, then I don’t know why we want to buy them,” Dotson said. “I understand we are talking about laying off one person in each road department, they cut our road funds quite a bit. If we don’t have the money to hire people to drive the trucks and buy the gravel and blacktop, then its a question we need to discuss.”
The motion to enter into a lease for the new trucks passed four to two, with Magistrates Doston and Harris voting against the leases.
In other business, the Court appointed members to the Pike County Heritage Commission.
“We want this to continue to be an active board,” Judge Rutherford said. He said that the Commission is responsible for Veteran’s Hall in the Courthouse, and that an umbrella group is needed to help promote the area and take advantage of the current enthusiasm for Hatfield McCoy tourism. Betty Phillips Howard, David Deskins, Chris Coleman, Anthony Hawkins, Bruce Hopkins, Stewart McFee, Randall Osborne, Everette Johnson and Jim Caine were named for the Heritage Commission.
Deputy Judge John Doug Hayes headed the effort to fill the positions on the Commission.
“We tried to come up with nine people who are first rate historians,” Hayes said. “I think we have done that, many of these people have published books on the history of the area. We also tried to be all inclusive of the county, and the people we have named are distributed geographically all over the county.”
Judge Rutherford also gave reports on the success of the 2013 Hillbilly Days Festival, the spring PRIDE paint up-clean up-fix up drive held throughout the county and a recent festival held to raise awareness of autism.
Rutherford also spoke about the horse trail ride that will be held May 18 at Fishtrap Lake/Pike County Horse Trail. Rutherford said 300 riders were expected, and the the Pike County Extension office will be a new sponsor the event.
The traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall will be on display at the Bob Amos Park Soccer Complex on July 3 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and July 4-7 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.