County discusses roads and raises in regular meeting
by Cris Ritchie
HAZARD – The Perry County Fiscal Court discussed public roads and approved, among other things, a cost-of-living increase for the jailer during its regular meeting on Tuesday.
Magistrate Earl Brashear said he had received calls from the Hazard hospice center regarding their inability to serve a Perry County man due to the poor condition of a road leading to his residence. The man living there is dying, and Brashear asked what the county could do to repair the road so that an ambulance could reach the man’s home. The road in question is considered a private drive.
“They said they might be able to get up there with a four-wheel drive,” Brashear said. “And we can’t do nothing about it. Now, why can’t we pass something to where we can grade that road to where they can get to the people?”
The county can legally maintain only roads listed in the county road plan, but the fiscal court can also adopt news roads into the plan if they’re deemed to have a public purpose, noted County Attorney John Carl Shackelford.
“I certainly don’t want to sound like I’m uncaring, but you have to follow the law,” Shackelford advised. “If it’s private property, and it’s not a county road, then the county can’t spend public funds to improve that.”
Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble said he felt like the state law prohibiting the fiscal court from maintaining private drives discriminated against the county’s taxpayers. The county routinely accepts new roads into the county road plan, but only if the roads lead to two homes or more, while roads leading to only one house are excluded from inclusion. Noble said in some cases more county taxes are being paid on these single properties rather than multiple homes.
“What kind of process do we have to take, the fiscal court or do I have to do it myself, to file a lawsuit against the state to change this law?” Noble asked. “We’re discriminating against the people every day.”
“There is nothing saying you can’t adopt it into the road plan if you deem it a public purpose,” Shackelford repeated.
“They tram a grader by this place all the time, up and down the road every day, and they can’t take five minutes to just scrape that to where a four-wheel drive can get up to these people and them dying. There’s something wrong with this picture,” Brashear added.
Ultimately the court took no action on the matter, though Noble mentioned that he may be able to do something privately to help.
In other business, the court voted to approve a cost-of-living increase for Jailer Jeanette Hughes, who has served as the county’s jailer since 2011. County employees recently received a wage increase, though Hughes cannot receive any increases unless approved by the fiscal court.
The increase proposed this week represented a 1.7 percent raise for Hughes, said Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble, and after speaking with jail Administrator Tim Kilburn, he believes she has earned it though her work to save the county money on health care costs at the jail.
“Tim just informed me that Jeanette saved us $112,000 from July 1 of last year on Medicaid and Medicare rates,” Noble explained, adding that the increase was recommended by the Department for Local Government.
The court voted unanimously to approve the increase.
The court was also presented with a list of state secondary roads recommended for resurfacing by the state highway department. Craig Lindon, with the highway department’s District 10 office in Jackson, reported that Perry County is slated to receive $1,647,930 from the state for road work, $803,200 of which will be used for snow and ice removal and other maintenance activities on the county’s state-maintained roads. The fiscal court will receive $148,668 for resurfacing of county roads, which should be available by July 1.
The state will recommend using an estimated $692,000 for resurfacing of five state roads in Perry County. Two projects on Ky. 2021 will be recommended that will resurface a total of 2.45 miles on different sections of the highway. The three remaining in projects will include 1.25 miles on Ky. 1095 near Vicco, less than one mile on Ky. 1096, and one mile on Ky. 2446.
In other business, the court voted to contract with the state to obtain signage for bridges or roadways renamed by the fiscal court. Magistrates also approved the first reading to adopt several new roads into the county road plan, including Ray Cemetery Road, Gracie Lane, Wesley Drive, Patriot Drive, Boone Ridge Road, Silas Bottom, and Spencer Hill. A proposed road named Pigeonroost Hill was declined after magistrates deemed that it would not serve a public purpose as it leads to only one residence.
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