• 79°

Boyle Magistrates approve first-responder budgets

Boyle County magistrates approved budgets for the next fiscal year for the sheriff’s office, EMS services, emergency management and 911 service during a special called budget meeting Tuesday.

There are a couple areas of uncertainty: pensions and 911 expenditures.

Pension contributions for employees in emergency management, the sheriff’s office and EMS grow by more than $300,000 or almost 60 percent under the approved budgets. However, Boyle County Treasurer Mary Conley said the budget amounts still anticipate Boyle feeling the full force of a pension contribution rate increase set last year by the Kentucky Retirement Systems board.

In December, the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Directors approved new pension contribution rates for the 2018-19 fiscal year that would have required employers to increase pension contributions for non-hazardous employees by about 46 percent over what they’re contributing this year; and increase contributions for hazardous employees by more than 51 percent.

But the Kentucky legislature has since passed legislation capping contribution increases at no more than 12 percent annually, meaning the increased costs to Boyle County will drop from what’s been budgeted.

Conley said she didn’t update the budgets to reflect smaller increases to pension costs because Boyle County has yet to receive anything official from the state informing it of its new contribution rates.

“I haven’t changed your budget at all from its original submission, with the full amount of retirement,” Conley told magistrates. “… There’s certain processes we have to go through to decide what we’re going to do as a fiscal court.”

Conley said the fiscal court may need to look into saving some money in anticipation of further pension contribution increases required in subsequent years.

“The new proposed legislation talks about a 12-percent increase (annually) … up through 10 years as needed,” she said. “I need to look to see what that looks like for us. I don’t know if we start putting money aside.”

Conley said there’s also uncertainty in how much Boyle County will have to pay the City of Danville for 911 service. That’s because the county has yet to receive a proposed budget for the city’s 911 call center for the next fiscal year.

Conley put a figure of $325,000 in the budget. She said she got to that figure by using the net expenses of the 911 center from this fiscal year budget — $948,395.63 — and adding 3 percent. Then she took Boyle’s share of the costs — 33 percent — and rounded up slightly.

Boyle County Judge-Executive Harold McKinney said he agreed with Conley’s estimate as being fairly safe.

“I think we’ve got to put an adequate amount in here so we don’t get surprised,” he said. “… I think this is a reasonable approach to it. … I’d rather budget too much and not need it than budget too little.”

According to information from Conley, other items included in the budgets approved Tuesday are:

• “slight” wage increases for the sheriff’s office and 3-percent raises for EMS and emergency management personnel;

• $84,200 in the sheriff’s budget for two new cruisers, six new Tasers and new handcuffs and chains;

• $190,500 in the EMS budget for a new ambulance, a new stretcher, new radios, classroom equipment including a SMART board, a dry erase board and “routine replacements;” and

• a $49,145.20 grant in the emergency management budget for two new emergency sirens.