By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
During last Wednesday’s special session of fiscal court, district three magistrate Millard Cordle told the court he was there to question the way the county was being run and to suggest changes. He continued in that vein on Monday evening, during the first regular session of the new court.
Cordle and district two magistrate Derrick McKinney voted “no” on the first item on the agenda, the first reading of an ordinance that would increase the 911 surcharge for telephone landlines. That ordinance, which the previous court had drafted as the first piece of legislation for the new court to consider, will increase the phone bill surcharge from $1.74 to $3.50 on all landlines in the county.
This would put the county more in line with neighboring counties, E911 director Joe Lambert told the previous court. He said Carter County’s rates were the lowest in the region, with neighboring counties charging $3.50 to $5.00 for their 911 surcharge.
Lambert told the previous court the extra money would be used to improve communication
infrastructure for first responders. This would not only improve communication range from the 911 dispatchers to emergency responders, ensuring they can direct them to the area of need, but also radio communications between response crews.
The first reading passed on a three – two vote.
The court voted together on other routine items – approving department reports, claims, transfers, and a motion to approve Judge Executive Brandon Burton, his deputy Marilea Fugitt, and treasurer Beth Justice as authorized individuals to sign checks on behalf of the county. Fugitt and a returning member of the janitorial staff were also added to the list of employees approved during the special session.
Council also voted unanimously to approve the sheriff’s budget, and to authorize the judge
executive to sign a lease agreement for new cruisers for the department.
After an executive session called to discuss employee and legal issues, however, council split on their votes once again.
This time it was veteran magistrate Chris Huddle voting no, on a motion from Millard Cordle to bring Rick Waugh back to work for the road department as a truck driver and operator, at his previous rate of pay.
The motion passed with aye votes from the other four magistrates.
Last week Cordle discussed consolidating duties at the road department and trimming fat. He did not respond, however, when asked how adding another staff member aligned with those stated goals.
The judge executive did respond to the question, stating simply and succinctly, “the magistrates just wanted to bring him back.”
While it was not on the agenda, and no action was taken by the court, Cordle also took an
opportunity to criticize the current dumpster schedule in the county, which provides access for dumping large items at alternating locations on opposite ends of the county.
“I don’t like the way it is now,” Cordle said, noting that neighboring counties charge a dumping fee of around $25 to $35 on average.
He said he would like to see the dumpster access cut to once a month access, if not completely eliminated, because it costs the county money and takes county employees away from other work.
Judge executive Burton disagreed, however. He told the court he was more familiar with the use of the Olive Hill location, but noted that “on pretty days, trucks will be lined up,” to dump garbage.
Burton said he thought it was a good use of time and resources, and helped to keep the county clean and large items out of illegal hillside dumps and creeks.
Huddle agreed with Burton.
“If you want to do this, to get the large stuff off our roads and out of our waterways… you can’t charge for it,” Huddle said.
He said they had tried, setting a minimal fee of $10, but that folks wouldn’t pay – and would instead dump illegally.
Cordle said there were other ways to discourage illegal dumping, including using camera traps to catch and prosecute those doing so.
The county, however, has tried this before. They purchased camera traps to place at areas of heavy dumping, but once illegal dumpers discovered the traps, they’d move to an unmonitored location.
By the time the county was alerted to these new dumps, the damage was done.
Nonetheless, county attorney Brian Bayes said, the county does pursue any leads they have to keep streams and hillsides free of garbage. Solid waste department manager Mike Brammell has returned several citations for illegal dumping recently, he said, with the health department bringing another for illegal sewage disposal into open streams.
Cordle also argued that contractors were saving money by holding building material scraps and dumping them at the county dumpsters for free instead of paying to dispose of them at a landfill. He said some people were also violating county ordinances requiring homes and businesses to properly dispose of garbage. Instead, he said, they were bringing them to the dumpster days or disposing of them on their own property, noting he had been asked to dig holes for people to dispose of garbage in.
Huddle said the dumpster days were monitored, and that no household trash or construction debris were allowed – only large items that couldn’t fit in residential trash receptacles. Cordle, however, insisted that they were being disposed of in the county dumpsters by creative contractors and
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