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With pledges lined up, magistrates vote to move forward with drama project

Nelson Judge Executive Dean Watts, right, and Nelson Fiscal Court magistrates, listen as Northeast Nelson Fire Department Chief Ted Shields discusses the tax district’s 2018-19 budget and tax rate hike.

 

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, June 19, 2018 — Nelson Fiscal Court approved moving forward with a base bid of $736,000 on the complete replacement of the drama amphitheater stage and backstage areas.

Magistrate Keith Metcalfe questions Watts about the funding for the major drama renovation project during Nelson Fiscal Court Tuesday morning.

County government is being assisted by Salt River Electric’s Community Development Fund, which is lending the county $335,000 at zero interest to help cash flow the project.

Judge executive Dean Watts told the court that he has secure sufficient pledges from local business and industry to cover the base bid. Those pledges will be paid over a five year term, which is why the county will need the Salt River loan to pay the project’s initial bills.

No county tax dollars are going into the project, though the county has made a number of in-kind donations to assist the Stephen Foster Drama Association, as has the City of Bardstown.

“At the end of five years, it will financially be a wash,” Magistrate Sam Hutchins said. “The county won’t be out any of its money.”

The project was unanimously approved by the magistrates.

COURTHOUSE WINDOWS. The court also approved a move that will replace all the Old Courthouse windows that are above the building’s roofline.

Watts said that due to the existing mortar repairs on the building, the existing scaffolding would make it easy to replace the building’s upper windows. The lower level windows are in the process of being repaired and restored, Watts said.

Chief Ted Shields presented the Northeast Nelson Fire Tax District’s budget to Fiscal Court, and explained the district’s planned tax rate increase.

The court unanimously approved the $175,925 window replacement project.

HEALTH INSURANCE. The magistrates approved a new health insurance provider for the next fiscal year. Baptist Heath has exited the health insurance business, and the county has selected Anthem as its insurance provider.

Due to the number of health insurance claims, the county did not receive proposals from a number of health insurance providers. Anthem’s proposal will offer similar insurance coverage as employees currently receive.

Anthem’s proposal represented a 7.7 percent increase is health insurance costs, all of which is being absorbed by the county, Watts explained.

NORTHEAST NELSON FIRE DUES. Chief Ted Shields told Fiscal Court that the Northeast Nelson board of directors were raising the fire tax in anticipation of building a new fire station in the Fairfield community.

Shields explained that a landowner there was ready to donate property for a station. Due to the fire district’s debt obligation however, Shields said he wasn’t ready to act on building a station yet.

Shields estimated the cost of building a station in Fairfield at about $150,000. The fire department has an engine available now to house there once the building can be built.

The tax change means that the dues for a home valued at $100,000 will go from $70 to $100. Board of trustees chairman Mary Ellen Marquess said the board has approved the tax hike.

In other business, the court:

— announced that county employees will see an average of 2.1 percent pay increase in Fiscal 2019.

— approved second reading of the Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget;

— approved bids submitted for materials including rock, fuels, road oils, pipe and sheet metal. Watts noted that the price per ton for asphalt delivered and laid was $70 a ton. An increase that means road funds will pay fewer feet of paved roadway next fiscal year.

— approved a $13,250 bid from Roy W. Hunter CPA, to conduct the county’s annual audit beginning with Fiscal Year 2018.

— approved a property tax assessment moratorium for 127 North Third St., the old location of Plantation Furniture. The space is being renovated for use as a commercial space that will include 21 hotel beds. The front of the building will be restored to appear period correct.

— denied a request from the developers of Corman’s Crossing Phase 7 to deviate from the subdivision regulations regarding street widths.

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