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The Spencer County Clerk’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office will each see a three percent increase in their salary budgets for deputies, assistants and other employees.
That increase is two percent less than what County Clerk Lynn Hesselbrock sought for her 2013 budget and in line with what Sheriff Donald “Buddy” Stump had requested.
The salaries of the clerk and the sheriff are not included in their respective budgets.
The clerk’s and sheriff’s offices are fee offices and Kentucky Revised Statute 64.530(3) states that “the fiscal court shall fix annually the maximum amount, including fringe benefits, which the officer may expend for deputies and assistants.”
This means the court sets a maximum overall amount, but does not set nor tell the clerk or sheriff what she or he is to pay each individual employee.
Hesselbrock requested a 2013 salary budget of $265,695.20 for her office, which currently includes five full-time deputy clerks.
That number was to include full-time salaries and wages, overtime wages, part-time salaries and wages, vacation and sick leave, health insurance, insurance other than health, and employer match Social Security/retirement.
That amount is a five percent increase from last year’s budget of $253,044.
Before voting on Hesselbrock’s proposed budget, Magistrate Jerry Davis raised some questions.
Davis said he contacted six other counties that are comparable — within 500 of Spencer’s population, he said — to Spencer County. Five of those counties responded with their clerk’s salary budgets, Davis said.
From those counties, Davis said he took the highest budget per employee and added a five percent increase, and still only got a cap of $226,000, roughly $39,600 less than Hesselbrock’s request and $27,000 less than what the office operated on last year.
Unless Hesselbrock was willing to come down from her number and closer to $226,000, Davis said he would have to vote no.
Judge-Executive Bill Karrer said that the clerk’s office operated at 98 percent of its 2012 budget — and that was with salaries being reduced through attrition and by not replacing a deputy clerk who resigned after an illness, Hesselbrock added.
“I reduced [salaries] by $11,000 through attrition, and reduced it further by not rehiring for someone who left after surgery,” Hesselbrock told the court.
She said that savings from her office will come from discretionary spending and that her deputy clerks “deserve to make a fair wage.”
Hesselbrock said she contacted several counties surrounding Spencer and others that are comparable in size and said her deputies are compensated fairly.
Among those Hesselbrock contacted are Anderson and Rockcastle counties, she said.
Davis declined to reveal the counties he contacted, but said each was “plus or minus 500” in population as compared to Spencer.
Hesselbrock said that her budget include inflation and the possibility of insurance increases as well as the cost of an additional employee, which will be needed when her staff is required to complete the upcoming Kentucky Automated Vehicle Information System training, which will require one hour per day per employee, she said.
Magistrate Hobert Judd made a motion to approve Hesselbrock’s recommendation, and Karrer seconded the motion.
However, the vote was a tie and failed with Judd, Karrer and Magistrate David Goodlett voting yes and Davis, Magistrate Mike Moody and Magistrate Woodie Cheek voting no.
Karrer informed the court that it was required to craft a budget for the clerk’s office by Jan. 15 and that the court was not scheduled to meet again before that date.
“We need to come up with something today or call a special meeting down the pike or continue this meeting [to a later date],” Karrer said.
After several seconds of silence, Judd said that he hoped one of the magistrates voting against Hesselbrock’s proposal would have a suggestion.
Davis reiterated that his suggestion was $226,000.
Moody made a motion to approve the same total as last year’s budget — $253,044 — with a second from Goodlett.
“[The clerk’s office] cannot continue to tread water,” Judd said during discussion.
“I have some real concerns about trying to keep it there again,” Karrer added.
“The only industry growing in this county is county government,” Davis said.
Karrer responded that he didn’t know how anyone could say the clerk’s office is growing.
This time, the motion failed by a 2-4 vote with Moody and Goodlett voting yes and Judd, Karrer, Davis and Cheek voting no.
Cheek then asked what the total would be for the clerk’s office budget to increase by three percent. That total was calculated at $260,635.32.
Cheek made a motion to approve that total, seconded by Judd. That amount passed a vote of 4-2 with Judd, Goodlett, Karrer and Cheek voting yes and Moody and Davis voting no.
Next on the agenda was the sheriff’s salary budget for his deputies, assistants and other employees, again, not including the sheriff’s salary.
Stump requested $782,033.10, which he said was a three percent increase over last year.
Again, Davis said he contacted the same counties as he did with the clerk’s office, and by using the same method, he came up with a total salary budget of $522,000 — approximately $260,000 less than what Stump requested.
Davis again said that unless Stump was willing to come closer to $522,000, he would vote no.
“And I don’t cave to scare tactics that my friends will be fired,” Davis said.
Moody questioned the percentage of the increase.
“Three percent?” Moody asked. “It’s more like 20 percent.”
Moody referenced the budget form approved by the court a year ago, which set the sheriff’s budget at $636,572.72.
However, Stump was quick to remind the court that since that original budget was passed, the court voted to add approximately $60,000 in salary expenses to the sheriff’s department, when the department took charge of transporting the county’s prisoners in February.
Also, the court recently voted to include approximately $60,000 in the sheriff’s budget to pay for the county’s fleet maintenance technician, although some of the cost for that position will be reimbursed to the sheriff’s department when other departments utilize the technician.
With the additional $120,000, the increase to $782,033.10 is approximately three percent.
Cheek made a motion to approve Stump’s proposal, which was seconded by Judd. The motion passed 4-2 with Judd, Goodlett, Karrer and Cheek voting yes and Moody and Davis voting no.
In other business
•After hearing a report from Judd, the chair of the court’s industrial hemp committee, the court voted unanimously to approve a resolution in favor of reintroducing industrial hemp into Kentucky agriculture.
Judd told the court that due to unforeseen circumstances, the committee, made up of Judd, Goodlett and local farmer Scott Travis, was unable to have an official meeting, but had discussed the resolution and agreed reintroducing industrial hemp could provide a much-needed boost for the state’s economy.
Judd said he, James Allen Tipton and John Riley, a former magistrate who serves on the state’s industrial hemp commission, watched an informational video on the topic and agree it would be a great thing for the state.
•Parks Director Brian Spencer requested permission to purchase T-shirts for the county’s youth basketball league. The shirts will be purchased from fees collected from the league. This year, the league has grown from 14 teams to 25 teams, Spencer said.
Because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 21, which would normally be the date of the next Fiscal Court meeting, the next meeting of the court will be on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. Meetings of the Fiscal Court are open to the public.