Ken Taylor, of Kenvirons Inc. in Frankfort, said city officials in Cumberland, Benham and Lynch can expect drafts of the study, which began in the fall, “after the first of the year.”
The proposed merger of each city's water and sewer plant is expected to reduce maintenance costs and provide services at cheaper rates for customers. It would be a more efficient approach to financially maintaining the budget-strapped cities, Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop said during the monthly meeting of the Harlan County Fiscal Court on Thursday.
“There are not enough dollars available to meet each city's individual needs to keep up with state regulations,” he later said. “You have to become more efficient ... unless you're independently wealthy.”
The merger was addressed during discussion to approve a coal severance allotment of $100,000 for Lynch's long-term water rehabilitation project. A portion of that will also go to sewer debt service.
While fiscal court members approved the request, Grieshop and 5th District Magistrate Jimmy Roark stressed that the proposed merger in the Tri-Cities should seriously be considered. Both agreed funds need to be funneled to areas still awaiting water and sewer services.
“As long as it's efficient and they're moving toward combining those systems,” Roark said.
The study, Grieshop said, will offer “direction on what the Tri-Cities will do.” He said he and the county's magistrates will meet with city leaders once the study is complete.
Approving the $100,000 allotment for Lynch meant that other projects currently pursued by the city, including a $200,000 splash pad project, had to be nixed, Grieshop said.
Kenvirons Inc. was appointed by the Cumberland Valley Area Development District to conduct the study. Funding for the study, estimated to cost $100,000, came from a $1.2 million grant issued in 2001 by the state Division of Water for the renovation and upgrade of Cumberland's water plant.
In other news, the fiscal court:
-- Agreed to consider a request for $50,000 from Harlan Countians for a Healthy Community. The request was made by Teana Burns, who explained that the agency, a non-profit organization, has provided services to approximately 1,400 locals as of November. Located in Sunshine, the agency recently began a food pantry and offers dental, medical and educational assistance. Grieshop said the fiscal court will be reviewing its budget in the upcoming months and will be in touch.
-- Approved a 2007 anticipated revenue of $809,100 for the sheriff's department and the 2007 budget and salary cap for the county court clerk's office, as estimated by the state. The county clerk's office budget was approved at $5,510,812 and the salary cap at $380,445.51, which includes salaries and wages, as well as insurance.
-- Approved a resolution and an $800 legal expense supporting a widespread lawsuit against the state regarding financial obligations for convicted felons. Grieshop said the county should receive compensation for jail time served by inmates. “We've never gotten fair compensation,” he said.
-- Approved a motion to advertise for bids on road/bridge materials (ready-mix concrete, metal culvert tile, steel rebar and galvanized coated gabion baskets).
-- Approved public official bonds for Grieshop and Harlan County Court Clerk Wanda Clem, as well as sheriff-elect Marvin Lipfird and 20 deputies.
-- Appointed Fred Howard and Bob Landis to three-year terms to the Harlan County Extension District Board, effective Jan. 1.
-- Declared a 1998 Ford Crown Victoria from the sheriff's department as surplus property. Grieshop said the vehicle may be utilized by the county detention center or the local airport.
-- Accepted the sheriff's department's official receipts for the 2006 property tax bills.
The next meeting of the Harlan County Fiscal Court will be held in special session Jan. 2 at 10 a.m. in the fiscal court conference room of the Harlan County Courthouse.