JULIA ROBERTS GOAD
PIKEVILLE, Ky. - Members of the Pike County Fiscal Court discussed the County’s financial situation, and what would be done to address the issue in the coming year.
Under Kentucky statute, counties must have a balanced budget. Facing a loss of revenue and increasing expenses, the Fiscal Court was forced to make over $2 million in cuts last year in order to balance the budget. And Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford said the situation for 2012-13 looked no better.
“We are starting in the hole, facing a $2 million to $3 million shortfall,” Rutherford said. “We are in a dire trouble for revenue to operate the county.”
Rutherford’s comments came in response to discussion of opening the Johnson Bottom swimming pool.
One of the cost cutting measures taken by the county last year was to close the county’s pools to save operating expenses. However, the Johnson Bottom pool has been in disrepair, and money was budgeted to fix the pool before last year’s budget was cut.
District Five Magistrate Hilman Dotson said repairs to the pool were underway, and asked the court for approval of funds to finish the project.
In past years, the county has contracted with the Pikeville YMCA to operate the pools, provide maintenance and lifeguards, but Magistrate Dotson said he did not think the pools had been managed efficiently.
“We have had reports that the lifeguards weren’t opening the pool when are supposed to, that they close when its cloudy,” Dotson said of the YMCA employees. “We have spent a lot of time and money to make the pool safe to operate, and they didn’t maintain it. We pay these people $85,000 to operate three pools for three months.”
Dotson said he felt the County should use its own employees to operate the pools.
District Six Magistrate Chris Harris agreed with Dotson about the county contracting with the YMCA.
“It has not been a good relationship (between the YMCA and the county),” Harris said. “I think maybe we do need to do this on our own.”
But Judge Rutherford said he felt hiring the YMCA was a moot point, as the county will probably not have the funds to open the pools this year.
He said senior programs have been cut, and may be cut more, among other things.
“I don’t see any way to open the pools,” Rutherford said.
Dotson said if the county is in such dire straights, he would start the process of cutting costs by taking a 10 percent pay cut, and suggested other members of the Fiscal Court do as well. But the Judge said that, given the shortage the County is facing, that amount of money saved by such a pay cut would not help.
“That’s no money,” the Judge said. “We need $2 million, that is no money.”
Dotson made a motion to put a bid out for the management of the pools, which was passed by the court.
In other business, Dotson told the Court some citizens had approached him about building a horse rink near the apartment complex at McCarr. He said the site is property that had been in the floodplain and was donated by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Pike County Assistant Attorney Roland Case told the Court he would look into the legal issues involved, including insurance liability.