Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Kyle Morgan, from the Grayson Fire Department, was at the last Carter County Fiscal Court meeting to ask the county to continue funding for weekend firefighters in the cities of Grayson and Olive Hill. New librarian Matt Parsons was there as well, asking for the county to maintain their current level of funding.
But while the county expressed their support for both the fire department and the library, the only folks they voted to give more money to last Monday night were existing county employees.
Fiscal court moved to approve three motions related to pay increases after accepting financial statements and the treasurer’s report and approving claims, transfers, and add-ons. The first motion approved a five percent raise for all county employees currently making $13 an hour or more. A second motion set the new starting salary for county employees, across the board, to $13 an hour. The final motion related to the pay raise moved all employees currently making less than the new starting range up to $13 per hour. The motions were all passed unanimously.
In related action the court discussed a COVID bonus for those who worked through the pandemic, but tabled the motion until they could tighten the language related to requirements to qualify for the bonus.
The meeting started, however, with two hearings for the removal of roads from the county system. While there was a great deal of discussion and debate relating to the removal of the end portion of Pleasant Valley Avenue from the county road system – ending in an evenly split decision and the road staying in the county system – there was no debate about the removal of Horseshoe Drive from the county road system and the magistrates voted unanimously to approve the removal.
While residents at the end of Pleasant Valley Avenue claim criminal traffic comes past their property as a result of the road being a public thoroughfare, residents along Counts Hollow Road said the Pleasant Valley pass through is regularly used during the spring and summer months, when leaves and high grass can make it difficult to see oncoming traffic on the Grahn Road exit. Pleasant Valley is also used as an outlet to US 60 when high water blocks other outlets, the residents said.
After taking action on roads the county heard from Parsons, who formally requested the same funding as in previous years. Parsons also, however, pointed out that Carter County is one of the only libraries in the state without a tax base of their own. He asked the court to consider supporting a tax district for the library.
“We need that taxing district,” Parsons told the court, noting that he would like to pay his staff a livable wage and give long term employees a raise. The longest serving member of the library staff hasn’t had a salary increase in six years, he said.
In discussing funding for the fire department, Judge Executive Mike Malone told Morgan that he “(had a) feeling that the people taking the most calls will get the most money,” which means the Grayson and Olive Hill stations would be near the top of the list.
Both the Olive Hill and Grayson departments said the funding for weekend staff has made a difference in their response time.
Malone also acknowledged that services like the fire department were important for the community, no matter their costs.
“Do I want to pay the money? No!,” Malone said. “But I want the service.”
And to have the service, he said, the county would have to pay.
The court also accepted department reports, including a report from the road department noting that heavy rains and flooding in previous weeks led to a lot of future work for road crews.
“In a 48 hour period, we received at least two months of work,” road department supervisor Jason Carroll told the court. He told the court that 101 total tiles had been washed out or damaged as a result of the storms. Despite this, they were taking bids on asphalt work to stay on schedule with road paving while continuing to address storm damage issues.
The court also voted to approve the purchase of a drone for the emergency management department and discussed additional pay increase requests for the sheriff’s department and jail staff.
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