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Judge Cowan: Budget bill benefits Adair Co. in many ways

By Gale Cowan, Adair County Judge Executive

By now, everyone should be aware that the current version of HB1 was delivered to Governor Andy Beshear on March 30, 2022. This is the House and Senate version of the Executive Branch budget for the next 2 years. It has been mentioned that several surrounding counties got large projects funded with specific line item projects in the budget, but Adair did not.

While this may be true, if signed by the Governor, Adair County will see a lot of benefits from this budget, including:

  • There is Water Infrastructure money that will be allocated to each county based on population.

  • There is money allocated to establish an office for Broadband to focus on unserved and underserved areas.

  • There is money allocated for aerial mapping projects for PVA's.

  • There is money for the Rocket Docket court program.

  • There are additional positions for County Attorney's offices to enforce Marsy's Law for victims.

  • There are taxpayer dollars saved with assistance on county officials annual audit payments.

  • This budget includes grant funding for County Clerks for recording equipment and election equipment. We are working hard and are very hopeful this will be retroactive and will cover the recent purchase of our voting machines purchased earlier this year.

  • Also included is grant money for jails to apply for video arraignment equipment. If awarded, this would allow our jail to purchase equipment for a video arraignment system within the jail. This will cut down on the number of staff needed for court for not only the jail, but also the Sheriff's department because inmates could be arraigned from the jail and not have to be transported to the judicial center by deputies and/or court security, decreasing the chance for any safety concerns moving inmates.

  • This budget allocates an increase from $9/hr. to $15/hr. reimbursement to the Sheriff's Office for Court Security.

One of the most significant benefits from this budget, that I assisted on and fought for, is the increase in per diem fees paid to counties for housing state inmates in our local jails. This budget increases the per diem fee by $4.00 per day per state inmate. This will be an ongoing benefit to counties, not just a one-time payment. As of today, per jail staff, we have 66 state inmates in our local jail. If you add $4.00 per state inmate, and if we had that number every day, that is an increase of over $96,000.00 per year we could be paid from the state that would not be transferred out of our general fund budget, and your local tax dollars.

Adair County has 3 projects in the 2022-2024 Biennial Highway Construction Plan. One is addressing conditions of the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway, and two on KY N 55. We are fighting to keep a turning lane at Betty's Country Cooking included and improve safety and mobility near Doc's Market. We hope these two very important projects will stay in the Construction Plan.

Specific line-item projects in the state budget are submitted by your State Representative. As everyone knows, we went 3 sessions without a vote in the House of Representatives during the illness and passing of Representative John "Bam" Carney. Representative Carney was working hard on Adair County projects. One of those was the Adair County Courthouse. After Representative Carney's passing, Adair County taxpayers was out over $25,000 for a special election to elect his replacement. Representative Michael "Sarge" Pollock was also on board and eager to assist Adair County. But, before he got started, redistricting took place, and we lost what I feel would have been another great State Representative. Adair County is now in the 21st District, comprised of Adair, Cumberland, Metcalfe, and Monroe Counties, and has Representative Bart Rowland representing us. Representative Rowland is a great asset to have on the hill in Frankfort, but we didn't have the time to work on prospective projects for Adair County by the time the redistricting took place. And, he is retiring at the end of this year.

This is where you, the voters in Adair County, come in. We have several people running for the State Representative seat that Representative Rowland will vacate. Do your homework, talk to the candidates, see what they stand for, and if they are willing to assist local officials in getting much needed funding for Adair County. We are already working on projects for the next budget.

I want to thank our engaged citizens, our State and Local officials and their staff, State Association employees, and anyone who has advocated and fought for all funding for Adair and surrounding counties. I won't stop! I will continue working with those State and Local officials and our Associations in Frankfort, fighting for our community. We deserve those line item projects as much as anyone.

This story was posted on 2022-04-08 14:50:43
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