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Magistrates deny Trimble Conservation District budget request for a second time
, Courier Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 11:00 AM
Magistrates failed to approve the Trimble County Conservation District's request for the upcoming fiscal year's budget for a second time during a meeting Monday.
Chairman Jonathan Turner with the conservation district again requested $144,000 for the district's 2013-2014 fiscal year budget. At the meeting, Turner discussed a KRS statute that allows the district to receive funding through Fiscal Court.
According to the statute - KRS 262.2 - the Fiscal Court may fund the conservation district programs through "general funds or from the levy of a millage tax on all real property within the boundaries of the county."
"What we're asking for is to be a special taxing district," Turner said. Nearly 70 of the 121 conservation districts throughout the state already operate from a millage tax, he said.
The statute states that the Fiscal Court must provide a specific list of objections or corrections in writing should magistrates not approve the budget.
Magistrates also pointed out that the statute requires the conservation board to present a report of last year's operation, a long-range plan for natural resource development and an annual plan of work.
Magistrate Kirby Melvin asked to see information about the funds dispersed through the Trimble County Conservation District for the previous years. He wanted to see who was benefiting from the funds, how much they received and how many times they've received the funding.
Turner provided a list of recipients at the meeting and discussed the creeks project that was available through the conservation district as just one of the many benefits the district brought to the county.
"You all know how you benefited," Turner said. "Look at the contractors in this county that benefited."
If the conservation district isn't in the county, the funding wouldn't be available, Turner said.
Magistrates said this was the first time the district had requested that much funding. The Fiscal Court had funded around $10,000 in previous years.
An increase to $144,000 for an annual budget comes from the district's hopes to begin a local cost share program on a first-come, first-served basis like Shelby County, Ky. The increase will also allow more educational funding for schools too.
"Prior years haven't ever met the needs," Turner said. "There's not enough to operate like they should. We just want to offer more to the landowners of this county."
Magistrates agreed the district is worthwhile, but there isn't money available to fund the $144,000 request.
"We're a small county, and we're just trying to survive," Magistrate Nolan Hamilton said.
Trimble County Judge-Executive Jerry Powell said he already had to make the difficult decision to implement the new 5 percent insurance tax earlier this year.
"If I have to be the one to vote for it...I won't do it," he said.
Magistrate David Scott said the Fiscal Court tried to help the district last month when Turner presented at the meeting, but a compromise couldn't be reached. The court had set aside nearly $11,000 in next year's budget during the first reading.
"What you've got is a good program," Melvin said. "I can't help you if you won't help me."
Magistrates agreed that Powell and Turner should sit down and discuss the Trimble County Conservation District budget to see some agreement could be reached.
"As a whole, we all live in this county and we all want the same thing," Powell said.
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