Judge Hutchins offers update on county government progress, future plans

Due to my illness over the last several months, I have not communicated as much as I would have liked to the citizens of Nelson County. Day-to-day responsibilities and planning for future projects in Nelson County have been extremely time-consuming. But I said that I would communicate and be transparent to the citizens of Nelson County, so that will again become a priority for myself and my office.

Nelson County Judge-Executive Tim Hutchins

Fiscal Court has been researching and questioning the feasibility of building a new jail in Nelson County. Without getting into tedious details, the bottom line is that eventually the current Nelson County Correctional Center will be closed by the state. With the election of Jailer Justin Hall, we are fortunate that we have received a short reprieve, however, that reprieve will not last forever. When the current jail is forced to close, Nelson County has two options 1) have our own jail, or 2) transport our prisoners to another location and pay them to house our inmates.

The cost of our jail currently to Nelson County residents is $2.1 million annually. For comparison, if we had to close our jail tomorrow the $2.1 million would increase to $2.6 million with that increase being passed on to our residents.

In an effort to cut spending many offices and departments are being forced into regional offices instead of county offices. The plan for the county jails is no exception. The state is planning to close some county jails over the next few years and replace them with regional correctional centers. The county’s current facility would not meet the criteria for a regional correctional center. Therefore, without a new jail, Nelson County inmates would have to be transported out of county.

After eight months of planning, discussions, meetings and two feasibility studies, Nelson County could potentially save approximately $130 million over the next 25 years if a new correctional center is built. This money could replace the Bourbon Barrel Tax that Nelson County will be losing, increase community activities, and enhance the lifestyle of our citizens. By the same token, if we decide to do nothing, the jail cost over the same time period of 25 years is estimated at over $150 million.

These correctional changes will have long-term costs and implications for Nelson County. Fiscal Court must look at not only today’s spending but also the spending for Nelson County’s future. Nelson County can either build a larger jail and house inmates from other locations and potentially provide a revenue stream for services needed and wanted here in Nelson County or we can do nothing and wait for our taxes to exponentially increase in order to transport and house our inmates somewhere else.

This is not an easy decision and there are many factors that need to be considered. This is an issue that will affect not only our citizens today but our children and grandchildren tomorrow.

The Drivers Licensing Department for Nelson County closed approximately six years ago. During this time, Nelson County residents were forced to travel to other areas for license changes, replacements, driver’s tests, etc. This has caused many issues for Nelson County residents. With the help of state Sen. Jimmy Higdon, state Rep. Candy Massaroni, and Circuit Clerk Diane Thompson, we were able to get approval and funding for the reopening of the drivers licensing office here in Nelson County. I am working with my staff and the state office to identify a new location and open it as quickly as possible.

With collaboration between myself, Sen. Higdon, and Rep. Massaroni, Nelson County was awarded $86 million in additional road funding in the state budget. Nelson County was also awarded $775,000 in funding to blacktop and resurface many county roads in 2024. With honest, open, and direct discussions with officials on both sides of the aisle in Frankfort, we can move our county forward and be proactive.

New leadership positions have been filled with John Downs as president of NCEDA and BIDC, Stacy Phelps as the Director of Tourism, and Nikki McCamish as Director of Planning and Zoning. I look forward to working with each of these individuals to bring new ideas and programs to Nelson County.

A few months ago, the addition of the roundabout in front of St. Joseph Church was met with some concern and apprehension. However, with the completion of the roundabout, traffic appears to move much more smoothly downtown, especially during school hours.

Through a joint effort between multiple departments, suppliers, and the Nelson County Inmate Program, the landscaping around the old courthouse and surrounding areas have been updated. The overgrown and dead plants were removed, new lighting installed and refilled with new plants. This entire project was completed at no cost to taxpayers.

This project was designed to bring new life to a historic building that is synonymous with Bardstown and Nelson County. Multiple times during the week Bardstown and the Old Courthouse are shown on Louisville news stations. While it is certainly great advertising for our community, it also makes me proud as a resident. It is important that we showcase the areas that make our county stand out.

There will be more than 180 new streetlights installed at intersections in Nelson County. These lights will be placed for the safety of our citizens. This program comes at no cost to taxpayers.

The Inmate Workforce Program continues to reap excellent results for our county. With joint planning between my office, the county road department, and Jailer Hall, this program has been extremely successful. We continue to identify areas throughout Nelson County, including New Haven, Fairfield, Bardstown, and Bloomfield to work on projects that are needed. This program comes at no cost to our taxpayers. My office and departments under Fiscal Court continue to work and plan for water and internet projects throughout Nelson County.

It has been a privilege to work with the magistrates, my staff, multiple departments, and our county employees that fall under the Nelson County Fiscal Court umbrella. While there have been challenges and changes made, the budget and financial state for Nelson County Government is solid and our future is bright. It has been an honor to serve you and your family. I have an open-door policy and I am available to speak to you whenever you need to speak to me. I can be contacted at 502-348-1800, 502-249-0816, or by email at Judge@NelsonCountyKy.gov.

Tim Hutchins
Nelson County Judge Executive

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Please follow and like us:

Comments are closed

Subscribe to get new posts in your email!