Fiscal Court Special Called Meeting Approved Minutes – March 3, 2020

The Special Called Meeting of the Boyle County Fiscal Court was held on the 3rd day of March, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. Members present at the meeting were:

John Caywood
Jason Cullen
Tom Ellis
Jamey Gay
Judge Howard Hunt
Phil Sammons
Ronnie Short

Others present at the meeting were, Fiscal Court Clerk Anne Nagy, County Treasurer Mary Conley, Solid Waste Director Angie Muncy, John Turner, Christina Lombardo, Allen Goggin, Danny Lay, Patrick Horn, Lee Welty, Rodney King, Joe Tamme, Adam Gray, Jessica Deering, Price Hunt, Barry Welty, John Helm, Jerry Little, Marty Gibson, Don Whitaker, Brad Godbey, Tommy Case, Bob Miller, Gary Pollard, Mike Lay, Jessie Lay, Will Stallard, Beth Coyle, James E. King, Michael Taylor, Stephen Mayes, Jerry Rankin, Elisa McHolan, Wesley Pruitt, Walter Goggin, Terry Gilbert, Jennifer Newby, Michael Paul Webb, Ray A. Graves, Roger Trent, Mike Graves, Don Nowell, Ben Pruitt, Logan Goggin, Scott Lane, Paul Purcell, Rob Kernodle, Mike Wilder Morgan Hayes and Ben Kleppinger with the Advocate Messenger.

Judge Hunt called the Special Called Meeting of the Fiscal Court to order. We have one agenda item on the Consent Calendar today is a discussion on the topic of Large Animal Removal. I will open this up by sharing a brief history of the Large Animal Removal in Boyle County. We had a contract with Bluegrass Recycling that expired 12/31/19. The contractor extended service to us through 1/31/20 at which time he closed his business. Judge was approached in the first week of January by the Conservation District with a dilemma. What will come out today is some of the dialogue that first meeting where the County was asked to assist in finding a solution for the removal of large animals. I approached the situation as an emergency. Having lived on a farm all of my life, I knew no action was not an option. Coyotes, dog packs and water tables would be negatively impacted by no action. We began looking at commercial incinerators and other options. What I expect today is a cordial conversation between all interested parties in the room. The Court understands the Conservation District is a separate taxing entity. An effort to collect a lot of data and possible solutions to this dilemma, we were not prepared during last week’s Fiscal Court Meeting to explore, in depth. Today is a good day to explore options, considerations, and concerns to discuss as a Court with the interested parties the Conservation District and the area farmers. We have not brought any presentation to the Court with recommendations how to proceed. At this time I will open the floor to the Court for questions, comments or inquiries.

Magistrate Caywood commented in April 2015 the Conservation District came to the Fiscal Court asking to become a taxing district. In return, the Boyle County Conservation District (BCCD) was going to take over the dead animal removal that the County had been responsible for. The cost was approximately $48,000 in 2015. Allen Goggin of the BCCD, agreed with Magistrate Caywood. Mr. Goggin further stated BCCD has returned to the Court due to the closing of Bluegrass Recycling which has created a problem. Magistrate Sammons commented the establishment of the taxing district was expected to bring in $160,000. Mr. Goggin stated closer to $152,000-153,000. Magistrate Sammons considered that amount to be more than enough to take care of dead animal removal. Magistrate Cullen asked if staff are paid from the tax receipts; if all receipts were used for animal removal there would be no funds for administration of the BCCD. Mr. Goggin shared that the proposals to replace the company that went broke, least expensive was $148,000, and next quote was $198,000. There is no way the BCCD can pay those. Mr. Goggin detailed other programs offered by the BCCD after the taxing district was established (in additional to large animal removal): county cost share programs, scholarships to students with an agriculture major, provided transportation water watch kits to high school students to collect date from streams in the county, we have a tree program open to anyone in the county if you spend $100 on a tree BCCD will reimburse $50, 700 third graders receive 2 seedlings annually. Through an education coordinator, we are teaching students about trees, soil and the environment. The art & writing contest has increased significantly 4,132 students in the last three years, assisted in sponsoring the farm-city breakfast. We own equipment now. Equipment is rented out to farmers in the County who cannot afford the equipment with a 10% return on our investment. Boyle has less equipment than Lincoln County and Mercer County. The equipment we have is a post driver, pasture sprayer, tube line-in hay wrapper and a drill. We feel buying the equipment and renting it out is helping the farmers in the county. These rentals are daily not long-term. The entire income from the taxing district was not intended to be completely devoted to dead animal removal. County Treasurer, Mary Conley reminded that a reserve was suggested of $40,000 at least for the first year. Magistrate Caywood shared a print out from the BCCD website listing reserves of a CD of $12,000 and a Money Market of $12,000 (June 2016). Magistrate Caywood complimented the home page and the pictures of the children.

Mr. Goggin added that when the Conservation District started out at $50,000, we are agreeing this year to go to $70,000, a 31.794% increase. We are here today to ask for help. Magistrate Cullen asked the members of the BCCD board if they are paid. All members are volunteers. Magistrate Short mentioned that this contract is 4-5 years old. The cost of living has changed in 5 years. The District brought in $156,000 less 4% for the Sheriff in 2019.

Magistrate Caywood: Going back to June 30, 2018, BCCD had total receipts of $227,250. Danny Lay shared Soil Conservation was established in 1933, during the Dust Bowl, as a way to get Federal and State reimbursement funds to farmers using best practices. Most of the practices are 50/50 match. When a farmer applies for a practice, our tech goes out to talk with the farmer and sets the specs on the project. When approved, the State sends the funds to our account but the farmer may not complete the practice for a year. The farmer is not paid until the tech signs off that the practice is completed. We frequently have a “false” balance due to funds being held in escrow. We are operating on $100,000 budget or less, we might have $400,000 in the account. Mr. Goggin: Without the Conservation District in the County, State/County cost share brought in for the past three years $439,631. Federal: EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program) brought in $1,158,202 for a total of $1,597,833 that would not have come into the County without the Conservation District. Magistrate Cullen: We are talking about dead animal removal but not all farmers will have that problem. You are helping all farmers in the County. We can’t earmark 100% of your tax base for dead animal removal; that would leave a big hole in helping other farmers. How can we help you?

Magistrate Caywood: We have nine taxing districts, it is important that we are fair to each of them. Legally, I don’t know what we can do, I’ve never seen this come up before. We want to be responsible to all taxing districts.

Magistrate Ellis: I represent western Boyle County, which is 55% of the geography. Obviously many of you have farms in my district and in other parts of the County. I am committed to helping the farm community. I know you are one of the major economic engines in the economy in the County. My notes from the Judge’s memo received last night are related to the environment. I prepared a map and am handing it out for review. I actually sit with the fiduciary responsibility of being the chair of the Public Works Committee. Magistrate Sammons sits on the Solid Waste Committee. He and I were in the first meeting on January 13, 2020, fast forward to 10 days ago, I was hit with a rumor and significant concerns by my constituents. Within twelve hours, Magistrate Sammons called me to ask why I had not told him what I had heard only as rumor To my knowledge there was no discussion with magistrates of a vehicle or an employee for the purpose of picking up dead animals in the County until last Tuesday’s Fiscal Court Meeting. First, referencing my handout, I am very concerned that today, and only by request, do we have a letter from the water people in Frankfort. I do not know beyond the back left corner of the property where there is a gate, that the water people went down that significant slope that leads to a spring that was crucial to the Confederate Army when their headquarters was at Crawford Springs and the Crawford House integral to one of the most important battles in the nation in 1862. Several of the Perryville residents are concerned about the likely run off in the spring. I would want to speak to the gentleman who signed this letter, he used conditional language. The letter states “it looks not to violate applicable environmental standards”. Apparently last year was the bell weather of all years for Dead Animal Pickup. Because we did not have information, I thought 2,200 dead animals was probably 1,500-1,600 cats and dogs. It was a surprise to see 1,900 large animals would be composted in Perryville, not small dogs and cats. The projection of 1,900 animals at 1,000 lbs. would be 1.5 million pounds of which I believe 90% is fluid. With a site on the Kentucky Historic Council’s Preservation List including a spring that helped Confederate soldiers to survive and flowing immediately down into the Chaplin River. I think we have some very consequential issues to deal with in terms of environment. I would think there were would a possibility that a private farmer who had 300 or more acres would take on accepting dead animal removal or even leased land where we could cooperate and collaborate with you. I’m talking about fiduciary responsibility that we may be putting on other taxpayers and I am reluctant to do that. If we could cooperate, collaborate on things like leased land or the farmer with 300 acres, I would be willing, reluctantly, to go with you on the Court taking over. Unknowingly we took over the truck, the individual hire because, as I understand it as it’s been proposed we take over everything vacation, health benefits, retirement. I understand we would be reimbursed by the BCCD for all costs related to truck maintenance. The farmer taking this on, has two benefits that I can see. He/she could ask the Humane Society $10-$12 for each small animal and $30 for large animals. I have a strong desire to help farmers and assist in solving this problem. Two things about the Perryville Convenience Center concrete pad, it cannot leech that residue, it’s going to run down the hill toward the historic spring. That pad is not big enough for 1,900 animals and the turning, rotation and moving around. Where does the compost go from the County site and how is it properly handled. Will there be any cost benefit to the County?

Judge Hunt asked Jerry Little to comment. Mr. Little informed the Court the compost could be given away if a certified composter on-site. This is what Franklin County does.

Magistrate Gay: Requested discussion of the Options listed in the document distributed yesterday as well as comments from our experts such as Mr. Little, our Solid Waste Coordinator and others. The goal is to work together and move forward.

Judge Hunt: Referring to page 3 where options are listed. Is Option 1 a viable option? General consensus, verbally, no, this was cost prohibited. Option 2, same, not viable. Option 3, again, not viable it is cost prohibitive. Option 4 seems to be the most likely solution but let’s discuss this with the folks that are here today and are experts. Jerry Little, I’d appreciate your speaking to the Court.

Jerry Little: Dr. Higgins of UK was unable to attend today’s meeting. If you want to see a program that is working, go to Franklin County. This is their fifth year. They’ve had zero complaints. They have a County employee with a truck that picks those up, they give compost away to the public. Dr. Higgins opinion is that composting is the only economical solution to the problem. I’ve met with other agents and Bourbon County is paying $90/head. They picked up 2,600 last year. Clark County is also paying $90/head. They are all looking for solutions because these other companies are just not viable options. The same material to compost animals can be used three times, this is why Franklin County is just now able to give away compost. The process, is two foot of compost on the bottom, rick the animals, cover with three foot deep. We’ve been to those sites, there is no smell, no varmint issues. Franklin County has composted 743 so far this year. There is no runoff issue.

Discussion continued with local farmers and magistrates related to weights, run off, water quality, composting, stigma and private vs County operation of composting as well as historic preservation. A few property owners in the area expressed reservations related to possible increased traffic to and from the Convenience Center and possible smell from the site. A berm will be added at the Perryville Convenience Center to the site just for an extra once of protection. Privately owned or leased land would need to be put out for proposals and add to the length of time before a solution would be implemented. Leased or private property would also involve a renewal cycle where county owned would be perpetual.

Angie Muncy, Solid Waste Director: I’ve never really dealt with Large Animal Removal. My first thought was incineration. Met with Fire Lake from West Virginia. They system was $200,000 and diesel fuel estimated at $140,000. The State has a composting grant available, application is due April 1. We have this site, representatives from State agencies looked at it. The pad is excellent with a few dips. Grant will pay for equipment, barriers, anything except salaries or four wheels. I’m looking at a grant right now I can do all this for under $200,000. We’ve discussed animal shelter. People often like to have their pets cremated. We can get an incinerator burner at the Animal Shelter for $10,000. I’m project we will get all we need in the composting grant, will attempt to also obtain the incinerator.

Magistrate Ellis: I have a proposal not a motion. I’ve had lots of feedback from constituents and appreciate all the input. This is quite a learning process.

Angie Muncy: The project was not ready to be presented at the Fiscal Court Meeting last week, still gathering information.

Magistrate Ellis – Sunlight is the best disinfectant. What I’d like to propose, get a poll of the people in Perryville and the surrounding areas. If it is 50.1% are in favor, I will support this. If we can get that type of poll, I think it would be relatively easy to accomplish that. If we can get that I am for an employee hopefully part-time.

Discussion ensued on the methodology of a poll, the time involved and the efficacy of any result. Farmers have dead animals on their farms now. The contractor going out of business was known before Thanksgiving. We need an answer now. A few farmers have equipment to bury dead animals but not everyone has equipment available. Neighbors are helping neighbors but that doesn’t take care of the size and scope of the situation. It was acknowledged that Alan Goggin has invested over 300 hours on this project. Other farm service agencies have been aware of the potential problem since last fall. Farmer are not supposed to have dead animals and/or bones lying about their property. This was an issue years ago and a farmer suggested he would drop off his 1,500 lb. dead cow at the Courthouse. Pickup of the dead animals began the following day.

Judge Hunt: I’m not going to apologize for trying to respond to an emergency situation with the nimbleness that comes from being here full-time. Working with Solid Waste Director and the District to come up with solutions. We were not ready to present solutions to the Court for consideration when it came up about the truck. If we have to give the truck back, we can give it back but if we don’t have to. It was a gift from the BCCD.

Magistrate Cullen – Mr. Goggin, if we do partner up, where the BCCD will take care of this and we will always be reimbursed. We don’t want this back as Court responsibility. This will be a contractual agreement between us.

Judge Hunt: There will be costs to the County, the employee and I want to be certain the Court is aware. First year up to $70,000 and if the tax increases we will increase the participation proportionately.

Magistrate Sammons: Motion to authorize the Judge to move forward on Option 4 as presented. Also, authorize hiring a driver and Solid Waste continuing with the Grant. Want to get this rolling. Let Judge take care of this.

Magistrate Gay: Motion seconded.

Magistrate Caywood asked County Treasurer if the County has ever done anything like this with another taxing district. Ms. Conley related that this particular taxing district impacts the livability of the County making it a priority. The Court has two options. No we have never subsidized a taxing district but there has not been a situation in which we ask a taxing district to take on a service. The tax was levied to provide this service. The Court request a tax increase to assist in providing the service. Otherwise a collaborative agreement. When would adjustment of tax come around, August. Do you plan on asking an adjustment? Mr. Goggin is not prepared to say that a tax increase is needed. It is unknown at this time.

Judge Hunt: BCCD committing up to $70,000 this year.

Alan Goggin: We spent $30,000 on truck this year. We do not have the funds to handle this issue, we need help.

Magistrate Ellis motion to expedite the situation we literally would get underway immediately. I made a commitment when I ran to examine everything as well as I could. I made a commitment to Dr. David Williams and for the greater good of the community when we see some language set I will go along with that the newspaper will get the word out. With that in mind and for the greater good of the community when the language in draft form I can vote in favor of this motion.

Judge Hunt: a draft of the agreement between the Fiscal Court and the Conservation District will be prepared by the County attorney and emailed to everyone while we are attending our conference in Lexington. We should be ready to approve it March 10, 2020.

Magistrate Cullen Thank you Ms. Muncy for being proactive in working on the grant and collaborating with BCCD and Judge. Jessica Deering has been volunteering 12 hr. days and John Turner as well. The volunteers and donations have saved the County $27,800. Appreciate your work Judge Hunt.

Magistrate Sammons: Call the Vote on the question. Motion to authorize the Judge to move forward on Option 4 as presented. Also, authorize hiring a driver and Solid Waste continuing with the Grant. Want to get this rolling.

Magistrate Gay: Motion seconded. No further discussion. Vote by raising right hand – motion passed by unanimous vote in favor.

More information by Tuesday Fiscal Court, driver and disposition of this matter. Potential cost which would come from reserves. In future would be budgeted items.

Magistrate Gay made motion to adjourn, seconded by Magistrate Sammons adjourn. All in favor.

Meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Howard P. Hunt III
Boyle County Judge Executive