County forming committee to plan spending of ARP funds

Published 1:07 pm Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Boyle County Fiscal Court has decided the county will form a committee to look at total American Rescue Plan Act funds for the county and how to best utilize them. The idea came from Magistrate Jason Cullen and was approved unanimously.

The committee will consist of Judge-Executive Howard Hunt, two magistrates, County Administrator Julie Wagner, and Jackie Richardson, acting county treasurer.

The county has, along with the city of Danville, talked about using ARP, also referred to as ARPA, funds the county has received for water and sewer projects, with emphasis on Perryville, Junction City, Parksville and other focused projects, and broadband.

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Magistrate Jamey Gay said additional uses for the funds could be employee support or bonuses, as well as using funds for a vaccine incentive for county employees to encourage those who haven’t gotten vaccinated to do so and reward those who have.

“Those are things I think we really need to look at to provide some incentives for our employees,” Gay said.

Additionally, some of the funds could theoretically be used to assist organizations like Habitat for Humanity, for example, which has faced high increases in construction costs due to the pandemic, he said.

Ultimately, Gay said, it comes back to the idea that the county needs to look more at total ARP funds and how to best utilize them. That’s when Cullen suggested the committee.

“It would be a committee that would exist as long as ARPA is a reality,” Hunt said, and would deal with everything involving ARP funds, including finance and legal counsel.

Cullen and Gay, as well as Magistrates Ronald Short and John Caywood, expressed interest in being on the committee – there will still only be two magistrates on the committee — and the decision to form it was unanimously approved.

Short said how the county will decide to spend the money will need to be publicized, and the county wants public input.

In other business:

The fiscal court made the unanimous decision to put a message forward to Mercer County, part of a joint jail committee with Boyle County, to support a proposal for a $1.50 per hour salary increase across the board for employees of the Boyle County Detention Center. Jailer Brian Wofford said he received a resignation last week that “kind of shocked” him, from a lieutenant who had worked at the jail for about 10 years. His reason for leaving was to pursue better pay, better retirement and better benefits elsewhere.

Wofford said starting pay for new employees currently is $12.50 per hour, and his desire was that it be raised to make the jail more market competitive, especially with new higher-paying factory jobs coming into Boyle County and especially with the staff shortage, COVID-19 quarantines and cases and other stresses to the jail.

“Why would someone want to come to the jail and work for $12.50 with the possibility of being spit on, hurt, assaulted, and dealing with all the issues that you have to deal with with our population?” he said. “It makes it hard to get good people.”