Boyle County forms Census committee to ensure strong federal funding

Published 6:18 pm Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Boyle County is forming a Complete County Committee to help ensure an accurate count of local residents during the 2020 Census.

The more accurate Boyle County’s Census data are, the more likely the county is to receive benefits from the federal government that are based on population, Judge-Executive Howard Hunt said.

“This has a direct bearing on how much our legislature, our congressmen can do to help us,” Hunt said.

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The federal government “uses Census data to make decisions about the level and types of federal funding our community will receive, including the funds for education, public transportation, elderly programs and many other programs,” according to the executive order Hunt has signed establishing the committee.

The order states the committee will:

• “encourage all residents of Boyle County … to complete their Census forms;”

• “consider the unique characteristics of Boyle County … and develop strategies to ensure participation;”

• include (as committee members) designees selected by organizations with experience in government, workforce development, faith-based community, education, media, technology, community organizations, businesses and such other representative from our community needed to ensure a complete count of all residents;” and

• “target the unique characteristics of (Boyle County) to further ensure participation in the Census.”

The U.S. Census was established by the U.S. Constitution, which requires a count every 10 years of everyone living in the country and its territories. The first Census was conducted in 1790 and a Census has been conducted every 10 years since that time.

Hunt said last week he would like every member of the fiscal court to submit names to him for possible members of the Complete Count Committee, particularly those with “spheres of influence” in different areas of the Boyle County community.

Other business

In other business last week, the fiscal court approved hiring a new broker for health care services on a split vote. Judge-Executive Howard Hunt had to break a 3-3 tie among magistrates with a “yes” vote to hire Sherrill Morgan, a health insurance brokerage company based in Covington, Kentucky.

The vote was divided because the county’s existing health services broker, Farmers National Bank, is a local company. FNB’s agent Valery McMann attended the meeting, as did representatives from Sherrill Morgan.

Magistrate Jamey Gay, who served on the committee that looked at six broker proposals, said the committee was recommending Sherrill Morgan because it has a “great history and track record in this business” and could do a lot to ensure compliance with things like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

The recommendation doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with the service provided by Farmers and McMann, Gay said.

“Local people always get weighted heavily and that was given great consideration and that makes it a very difficult part of the process,” Gay said. “We really tried to look objectively at all the criteria and the information that was presented and Sherrill Morgan rose to the top.”

Sherrill Morgan’s price for 2019 is $29,500, almost $3,000 more than FNB’s estimated cost, based on a percentage of reinsurance premiums, of $26,685. But Jason Cullen, the other magistrate who served on the committee, said the up-front cost will be out-weighed by savings Sherrill Morgan can help the county realize.

“While we may be spending a little bit more on the front end, the ability to save more on the back end — which is really going to be thousands of dollars — is really where you’re going to see why we made this choice,” Cullen said. “… It was a hard choice not going local … in this case, we’re spending money to save money.”

Judge-Executive Howard Hunt said he sat in on the committee’s meetings and interviews with the companies and vouched for the thoroughness and even-handedness of the committee’s work.

“The committee did an excellent job of being just right down the middle with the questions,” Hunt said.

In the end, Gay and Cullen made the motion and second to choose Sherrill Morgan; Magistrate John Caywood added his yes vote to theirs. Magistrates Phil Sammons, Tom Ellis and Ronnie Short voted against.

Ellis said because FNB had successfully saved Boyle County money in the past, he didn’t want to change companies. He said since the court was voting to choose Sherrill Morgan anyway, “we need a watchful eye on this to see that there is a follow-through and that we can be satisfied.”

Sammons was more forceful in his opposition.

“I don’t care who we get. I don’t think there’s any broker out there who will ever give us better service than the broker we’ve had,” he said. “… It just hurts me that we’re changing.”

After Hunt broke the tie and the magistrates were introduced to Sherrill Morgan’s team, Caywood and Sammons agreed that the court should do something formal to say thank you to FNB and McMann for their work over many years on behalf of the county.