Hancock County Fiscal Court met on Monday morning, March 13th. Judge/Executive Johnny Roberts said they are still estimating what the costs will be to repair damages in the county after the severe wind storm on Friday, March 3rd.
“What we have to do is file an emergency declaration,” Roberts said. “We’re trying to get a grasp of total, comprehensive loss here. We’re looking at tile damage, or road damage – we collect all of that information and then we’ll file with FEMA on that.
We don’t have that final number yet, so we’re still getting information. We’re working with the road department. They are collecting some of this information regarding tiles and roads for us. We’ll see where our total number is at. There was a guesstimate from Kenergy – the pole damage and their damage here in Hancock County is around $132,000.”
The main, large playground at Vastwood was updated last year and by the end of this week there will also be a new playground between the little league and t-ball fields. “In between our little league field and our t-ball field, we’ve removed that playground set and will be installing a new one there,” Judge Roberts said. “They should have that completely installed this week.”
Dispatch Positions Approved
Two part-time dispatch positions were approved by the fiscal court. Hunter Stanley and David Dant are those two new dispatchers.
Hot water heater approved for Dukes Senior Center
Program Director for Hancock County Senior Services, Lona Morton asked t
he court to approve the purchase of a new hot water heater for the Dukes Senior Center and that was approved. “I have some maintenance supply left in my budget,” Lona said. “I told them I would ask if the county could help them out with purchasing that. They said it wouldn’t be more than $500. They priced a couple of different ones. They said they would do all the work installing them. I think $350 is what he said. It’s a 20 gallon hot water heater.”
South Hancock Senior Nutrition Site Update
Lona also gave an update on progress with the new nutrition site at South Hancock Fire Department. She created flyers herself and mailed them out to senior citizens in the community with all of the details they will need about the new site. All of the signage is complete for the new building and the handicapped areas are being designated. She said she is looking at Tuesday, April 18th as a tentative opening date.
Road Department Update
Dave Tindle, Supervisor of the Hancock County Road Department, provided an update of how storm clean-up is going. “We’re just still cleaning up from the storm,” he said. “Trees are everywhere and we’ve got to get them out of our mowing zone. We’ve got to get that stuff back so that we can mow without tearing up bush hogs and stuff like that. We’re picking all that up and doing away with that and just cleaning up the shoulder of the road, right now. We’ll get it done pretty soon.”HC Animal Shelter Update – Decals for Vehicle
Director of the Hancock County Animal Shelter and County Dog Warden Ronnie York said the occupancy at the animal shelter is currently 14 dogs. The court approved a purchase for vinyl decals on for his work vehicle. The lowest estimate was $250.
911/EMS Director Report
Damian Rice, Director of Hancock County 911/EMS talked about the outstanding balance due to insurance companies taking extended lengths of time before reimbursement, as well as the rising cost of medicine and shelf life of bulk medicine. “Contractually, we have to accept what the insurance companies are going to give us,” Rice said. “We’re getting supplemental payments through the insurance companies like Medicaid. They are paying back into this. We have to pay into this fund and we didn’t have an option to opt-out, but they send money back.”
The fiscal court is looking at ways to ameliorate this problem of not receiving monies back in a timely manner from insurance companies. “What we’re looking at is just some reimbursement,” Judge Roberts said. “Some of that takes a long time to get reimbursed. Medicare and Medicaid only pay a certain amount. When you bill, they’re only going to pay a certain amount. So we’re looking at how we collect those fees.
The cost of medicine has went up quite a bit. We’re buying in bulk because that is what they are saying we’re mandated to do. But some of that, for our community, is expired. We’re just like everybody else, we’re looking at ways to cut cost. They (EMS) provide a great service to our community. We’re just looking at ways to be efficient.”
The monthly Treasurer’s Report was provided by County Treasurer Melissa Johnson. As of Monday, March 13th, the total is $10,282,138.22. Judge Roberts said that number is up $2,147,732.53 from last year.
Total Revenues & Disbursements
Hancock County Clerk Trina Ogle presented her final settlement for 2022, to be approved by the fiscal court. Total Revenues equaled $2,045,057.68 and Total Disbursements equaled $1,963,371.05. Excess Fees (the remaining balance that was not spent) equaled $81,686.63. Those excess fees are turned over to the County Treasurer.
New Ambulance & Lawn Mower Purchases Approved Last Month
The Fiscal Court held a meeting on Monday evening, February 27th and the approval was made to purchase a new ambulance and a new lawn mower. Sage Petrie Young, Hancock County Fiscal Court Executive Assistant, said those prices were: $260,000 for the ambulance, and $27,600 for the lawn mower.
Mike Baker, Director of Economic Development for the Hancock County Industrial Foundation provided a detailed economic update.
Century Continues Temporary Idle
“They’re still maintaining the temporary idle,” Baker said. “They say the electric grades are back closer to being in line, but still can’t predict enough long-term for making any decisions about when it will be over. We’re not anticipating any re-start from these guys in the near future. That could change, but right now their position is that they’re still temporarily idled.”
Southwire is Growing
“The other big three – business is good and orders are good,” he said. “Southwire is growing by leaps and bounds out there. If you’re driving by, you’ll see a big extension on one of their buildings. Their employment, I think, is getting close to 500. For years they’ve been in the 350-400 range, so they’re doing extremely well and that’s good news.”
Rickhouses in Lewisport – Barrel Tax
“Green River Distillery Rickhouses are well underway,” Baker said. “The legislature is on a track to eliminate the barrel tax. We don’t know if that will happen or not. But, the barrel tax is a 5 cents per $100 value tax that the distilleries pay to local governments and state governments. Those funds go to support schools, ambulances, fire trucks – a lot of the things that county governments use. For instance, in Marion County, Kentucky, where there are several distilleries, the barrel tax makes up 60 percent of the county’s budget.
Right now, the distilleries are lobbying hard for legislature to eliminate that tax and it’s got a lot of momentum. We’re watching it closely. It’s hard to think about losing something that you never had but we’re on the verge of having a rickhouse and a bourbon industry here in the county so that tax would be a welcome offset to the revenue we’re losing from Century. We’re watching that to see what happens.”
Coleman Demo – Moving Slowly
“The Coleman demo continues to be slow but, hopefully, steady,” Baker said. “I was out there not long ago and they’ve got the boilers laid over. It’s a lot slower than everybody had anticipated.”
“Broadband fiber through the Kenergy project has started,” he said. “The good news is that it’s started. The bad news is, that it’s started in McLean County not Hancock County.”
EV Industry/Transportation Sector Jobs
“Kentucky has made a strong financial commitment to support the Electric Vehicle (EV) Industry,” Baker stated. “Kentucky has been involved in the transportation sector for many years. Before we get into any EV industry, right now in the transportation sector there are 61,000 jobs in the state of Kentucky that are related to road, rail, air and water.
The average annual wage in those jobs is about $63,000 a year. That’s $4 billion in wages in the transportation sector. And that’s before any EV plants or battery supply plants, or any of that. Three hundred and forty companies are building parts and assemblies for the transportation industry in the state of KY, in 75 counties. So that’s going to continue to grow with this electric vehicle and it will take a lot of years for one to offset the other but transportation is going to continue to be a big part of Kentucky’s economy.
The EV inquiries we’ve had have slowed down a little bit. I don’t know if that’s a reflection of the overall economy, or hesitation about the economy. We’re still seeing some inquiries from the cabinet, but the pace has slowed a little bit right now. That could pick-up again. This vehicle plant in Elizabethtown is still going up as we speak so we’re still seeing interest here locally for suppliers to that plant.”