Fiscal Court looks to double project loans

RACHEL KELLER COLLINS/The Tribune-Courier

Richard Boone with Avenu Insights attended last week's fiscal court meeting to answer questions regarding the service his company will provide for the county in locating businesses not paying occupational taxes.

The Marshall County Fiscal Court last week heard the first reading of an amendment to the ordinance which allows the county to borrow up to $7.3 million to cover a number of projects instead of the $3.5 million initially planned to cover projects linked to the under-construction Southwest One Industrial Park.

Marshall County Judge-Executive Kevin Neal led a workshop at last week's meeting during which he presented a detailed presentation regarding various ongoing and upcoming projects including: $2.2 million for the sewer and water expansion to the new industrial park in Benton; $2.1 million for the multi-use facility currently under construction in Draffenville near the road department; $2.5 million to upfit Marshall County E-911's portion of that multi-use facility; $500,000-$1 million for a Jonathan Creek Water District project which could potentially be matched with a CDBG (Community Development Block Grant, through the Dept. for Local Government); and four variations of extending Draffenville's sewer lines under the interstate/parkway to pick up more customers, which range in cost from $735,000 to $1.8 million.

Neal noted the new 911 budget which will take effect once/if the county is able to collect the $7 monthly fee per electric meter, has been built into it an annual $197,000 debt service line which would repay the county for the upfit cost.

Commissioner Kevin Spraggs asked how the $2.5 million estimate for the 911 upfit was reached and what all that would cover. Neal said a representative from Mauell, the company the fiscal court recently contracted for E-911 consulting services, was scheduled to attend the workshop but a flight issue prevented their being there.

Spraggs asked E-911 Director Chris Freeman if he had put out requests for proposal (RFPs) to help come up with the numbers, Freeman said no. He said the amount his department needs "could be less, could be more." He also said he's negotiating the replacement of the CAD (computer-aided dispatch) system, as well as looking at all new equipment for the new center for two reasons: the equipment they're currently using is outdated, and they can't shut down operations to move from one facility to the other when the time comes.

Commissioner Monti Collins asked about the Draffenville sewer expansions, saying it was his understanding the sanitation district needed more residential waste but the suggested expansions looked as if they would pick up more commercial customers than residential.

Neal said what the sanitation district needs is more customers to generate more revenue. He said the district and its current commercial customers have worked together to manage the fats, oils and grease and the system is now 100% in compliance.

"What they need is customers and really for us on these projects here, I think we all agree it's crazy we don't have sewer on that side of the interstate," he added. "Growth is coming and we don't have sewer on that side of the interstate to capture it."

Neal also said it would be good for the Mike Miller Park to be able to hook on to sewer lines because the five septic tanks there are aging and it won't be long before depreciation catches up with them. He said the park regularly gets complaints about the smell now. He noted they would be able to get the road department on the sewer as well, which would remove a number of septic tanks from the Chestnut Creek area.

The potential funding sources Neal listed which could be used to pay for these projects: approximately $900,000 from the port authority, approximately $400,000 in insurance funds (for the building which burned in Jan. 2018 at the road dept.), $740,000-840,000 for the school's portion of repayment for the sewer project, estimated $667,000 in spring discretionary funds, $200,000-300,000 in potential Delta Regional Authority funds, approximately $3 million in occupational tax investments and the $3-7.3 million borrowed via bonds issued.

In other business:

• The meeting began with a moment of silence for David "Slim" Nanney, a road department employee who recently died. Roads Superintendent Wendy Greer said, "Slim was as good as they come. He for sure is missed from the road department."

• Richard Boone with Avenu Insights attended to answer questions posed by Commissioners Kevin Spraggs and Monti Collins, who were concerned with the length of time the company would go back in seeking and collecting occupational taxes previously missed. Boone said the company typically looks back as far as allowed by state law, which is five years; Spraggs and Collins were concerned if they went too far back, it could result in small, locally-owned businesses shutting down--so a compromise was struck with three years because Boone said he didn't believe the company would be interested in only going back one year. Collins also made a point to ask Boone if they would work with anyone who owed a large amount instead of forcing them into closure by requiring the entire payment up front; Boone said that's something the company would discuss with the fiscal court if the issue arises. Boone also mentioned his company's goal is to locate businesses currently operating in Marshall County that aren't paying into the occupational tax base, get those companies registered and paying. "We're not in this to put people out of business, we're just trying to bring them into compliance," he added. Avenu Insights will, according to the contract, keep 40% of the funds they find and will invoice the county on a monthly basis.

• The fiscal court members approved an agreement with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) which requires the state to reimburse the county up to 80% of the cost of constructing draining structures on various roads throughout the county, not exceeding $160,000. Neal said initially the state offered $80,000 but Roads Superintendent Wendy Greer's persistence doubled the available amount.

• The fiscal court members voted unanimously in favor of the second reading of the host agreement which includes the Marshall County Refuse/109 Board and WastePath Sanitary Landfill.

• The fiscal court members met in a lengthy executive session regarding litigation. No announcement was made when they returned to regular session.

• The next regularly scheduled fiscal court meeting was moved to Oct. 16 at 1:30 p.m. in the EOC room on the main floor of the county courthouse.