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City of Lewisport Receives Good Audit, Fire Chief Requests Contact Legislators – Stop Detrimental House Bills

The Lewisport City Council met on Thursday evening, March 16th, and received an ideal report of the City’s audit. Fire Chief Troy Roberts requested that citizens contact legislators to stop 2 very detrimental house bills from becoming laws. Also, a purchase of a mini-excavator for Public Works was discussed.

Audit Report

Jennifer Estes, Certified Public Accountant at Alexander & Company, gave the City’s audit report. “You guys have a really good financial position and it was a good audit,” Estes said. “Your cash was up, quite a bit, and your debt was down so you can’t ask for a better situation than that. I know a couple of years ago we talked about having funds balance themselves, that looked a lot better this year too.”

Fire Chief’s Report

Lewisport Fire Chief Troy Roberts provided a report. “The Kentucky Fire Commission, that’s who regulates all of our training and all of that kind of stuff. They’ve been working really hard to do a lot of grants,” Roberts said. “We got a new AED (Automated External Defibrillator) from them, which didn’t cost us anything. You’re looking at about $10,000-$12,000 of free money, basically.

We just got approved for a new set of battery rescue tools. The last pair we got was in 2000 and they were right at $10,000 for a hydraulic fit, so you’re looking at another $10,000-$12,000 of free money.

Over the last few years we’ve been getting thermal energy grants – all this is free money so we continue to apply for those and they continue to try to do more things for that.

Two years ago, we got right-at $9,000 for PPE. So we got brand new fire suits, hats and boots, and all that kind of stuff with that money. We’re glad the Fire Commission is there.”

Two Detrimental House Bills, Possible Elimination of Barrel Tax – Write & Call Legislators!

Roberts went on to say, “There’s a couple of house bills – one of them, they’re trying to move the Fire Commission from where it is and switch it to emergency management somehow, on a state level. And it’s just not good for what is happening now.

The fire commission is doing a good job with what they’ve been doing, so if you feel like talking to legislators and talking to them about that, we definitely don’t want to be moved from where we are, out of the school system. Because, we are a training system. That’s what the Fire Commission is about, is training firemen.

There’s another house bill about the barrel tax. We’re fixing to get rickhouses here and if the manufacturers of whiskey, or whatever, lobby to get that barrel tax taken off, and if they end up doing that, some of these smaller fire departments that are close to where some of these distributors are could close their doors. Because, that is where most of their income is coming from. That money, if they happen to take that barrel tax away, it could be detrimental to even our county, even though we’re not getting it yet.”

Grant Monies for Public Works

“We’ve got about $280,000 in ARPA money,” Gregory said, “I call it the ‘covid money’ and we’ve got to have it spent before 2024. There are a couple of pieces of equipment the guys have been looking at. They’ve been on a want-list for years.”

Lewisport City Administrator Jason Roberts said, “When we talked about spending some of this money, I talked to R.J. (Simpson), as far as Public Works, and asked what one thing they needed (right away). The very first thing that every single operator said was the sewer lift station. Well, then Chad realized we had $100,000 sitting out there (for that), so they changed gears and the next thing on the list was the mini-excavator.

 We tried getting one of those a couple of years ago right before covid. The prices have gone up. Right now they average around $79,000. But, what this thing will do for us is unbelievable. When I was in Public Works, we borrowed one and rented one, and we were able to go through the city and get every single ditch within probably two weeks or so. With a backhoe we can’t even get it in there to do it now because it’s too big.”

Superintendent R.J. Simpson said, “Everything is grown-in. The backhoe is wide and it’s heavy. It is a good machine for certain things, but when we take it in to somebody’s back yard or their property, it would cause another issue.

We have to drive a lot of places and it’s big, it’s heavy, it’s hard to haul and it wears the tires out. The mini-excavator is more compact. It’ll do the same work that the backhoe will do in a whole lot quicker of a time. You can do a cleaner job with it. It’s more fuel-efficient because it’s smaller. It’s an all-around better machine for a lot of the jobs that we have to do.”

R.J. said replacing tires, from wear-and-tear, on their backhoe costs at least $2,500. They run it up and down the road and are going through tires non-stop, it was stated. With the purchase of the mini-excavator, they could park the backhoe and use the excavator instead, which would increase the life of the backhoe, and also free it up for other public workers to use when needed.

“A lot of times we’ll be out in the county on a job,” R.J. said, “and while we’ve got the backhoe away from the city limits, we’ve got a delivery truck that comes to the shop that needs to be unloaded, and we’re out here 10 miles away. So, we’ve got to pull-off and come back in and use the backhoe to unload, etc. We have to plan everything with where the backhoe is, a lot of the time.”

They had a couple of bids on the mini-excavator. One was for $79,000 and the other one was $81,000. They still had another bid coming-in for the next morning that wasn’t stated.

“That size machine is what our job would require,” R.J. said, “as far as digging-depth and capacity of getting over top of our dump trucks to load-out, picking up brush, etc.” The ones they’re looking at come with 3 styles of buckets. One is a smooth bucket that’s 36 inches for digging ditches and the other one is a 24-inch, tooth bucket for demolition – trees, blacktop, concrete, etc. There is a 1-foot bucket option for the tighter areas, such as for digging between a water main and a curb, or other areas where it’s required.

“With the growth that the City of Lewisport has had,” Jason said, “I know, in the last 3 years, I think we’ve put in over 30 services. The trencher they use a lot as well. There were places they couldn’t go with it. They had to hire a mini-excavator in the middle of the process in order to finish the job. I just think it would be a good investment.”

R.J. said they’ve had the trencher since 2005, and the backhoe is a 2007 model. “They’re both in good shape,” he said, “but if we could get the mini-excavator and put it in the mix with them, it’ll take time off of the other two as well, and they will last longer.” (They would be looking at $100,000 to replace the backhoe they have.)

Mayor Gregory asked if they had the trailers they need to haul the equipment, and it was stated that they do have the trailer to haul it. The mini-excavator will fit on the smaller trailer they have and go behind any service truck they have.

If the decision is made to purchase the mini-excavator for Lewisport Public Works, it will go through a public bidding process first.

By Jennifer Wimmer

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