Fiscal Court delays taking action on New Hope Fire request to raise annual dues $20

Nelson Fiscal Court meeting on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.

Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, June 4, 2024 — Nelson Fiscal Court discussed and debated a request by the New Hope Fire Department to raise its annual fire protection dues from $40 to $60.

Magistrate Keith Metcalfe argued that a $20 increase was too much for his constituents to accept, especially those on fixed incomes.

New Hope Fire Chief Jeffrey Leete told the court that the annual dues have not increased in 15 years. The department has tried to deal with the fact the existing dues only generate about $55,000 a year with fundraising attempts that have no generated a great deal of additional income.

The department has a truck that has an pump that doesn’t work, and the department can’t afford to have it repaired, he told the court.

Metcalfe told the court that few people know about the proposed dues increase, and it should be better publicized.

Leete told Metcalfe that a mailing to property owners was too expensive. The department has depended on social media and the news media to get the word out.

Judge-Executive Tim Hutchins told Leete that his office would help set up a public hearing in the New Hope area so residents could find out more information and voice their opinions on the proposed fire dues increase.

“This large of an increase is hard on my constituents.” Metcalfe said.

Members of fiscal court were critical of the fire district’s policy of allowing individuals who own multiple properties to pay dues only a single property, instead of dues on each deeded property they own.

Leete said the fire department board has passed a resolution to change that policy and will start to require the fire dues be assessed on each deeded property.

After its discussion, Judge Hutchins told Leete he would help set up a public hearing in New Hope before the court will take up the proposed dues increase. He called on the news media to help publicize the proposed increase.

DRIVERS LICENSE OFFICE COMING. Judge Hutchins told the court that a deal is in the works to open a drivers licensing office in the county-owned career center building on West Stephen Foster Avenue.

The office will allow county residents to take licensing exams and renew their drivers licenses without leaving the county, he said. He credited the work by state Sen. Jimmy Higdon, state Rep. Candy Massaroni and Nelson Circuit Clerk Diane Thompson for their help in bringing this office back to Nelson County.

The office is expected to be open by July 1, 2024, he said. The West Stephen Foster location is temporary until a permanent location is secured, he told the court.

NEW HAVEN GARBAGE. The court approved the purchase of a number of new dumpsters of varying sizes that will be placed in New Haven as the county’s garbage collection contract begins on July 1, 2024.

County employees have surveyed the existing dumpers in place serving businesses and apartments, and the court approved the purchase of new dumpsters at a cost of $36,000.

The county will also be responsible for emptying the dumpsters as well as residential garbage collection in the city limits.

In other landfill news, John Greenwell, solid waste coordinator, reported that the county had just taken delivery of the new garbage truck ordered in November 2022 had finally arrived.

ZONING OFFICE LEASE. The planning and zoning office has been using leased space on Parkway Drive since roof repairs and mold remediation for the office to relocate.

The magistrates approved giving Hutchins the authority to enter into a lease for the old daycare building on Chambers Avenue. Hutchins expects the year lease to be sufficient until a more permanent location is selected.

The building won’t require extensive repairs or renovations prior to planning and zoning’s relocation, he said.

The county will move forward on the new lease after it is approved by the planning commission.

U.S. REP. MASSIE REPRESENTATIVE. A representative of Congressman Massie, Stacy Rockaway introduced herself to fiscal court, reminding them that the Congressman’s office offers help to constituents with issues related to the IRS, social security, disability, etc.

Rockaway said the best way to contact the Congressman’s office is by telephone. All mail to the office is still being screened using anthrax protocals, meaning that those inspections could delay mail arrival by up to four weeks.

In other business, the court:

— discussed but took no action on a new franchise agreement with Spectrum Communications. Hutchin said the court would take it up at its next meeting.

— Magistrate Adam Wheatley reported that the KY 605 bridge over the Bluegrass Parkway is closed for major repairs. He also noted that the state’s official detour is a five-mile route that uses only state highways. Wheatley noted that the shortest detour is to use Parkway Drive through the industrial park to Springfield Road.

— the court approved the appointment of Robert Cecil to the Nelson County Public Library board.

— heard Hutchins read a proclamation recognizing June 14, 2024 as Marine Shipyard Safety Recognition Day.

The proclamation was issued because a number of Nelson County residents are employed by Evansville Marine Service at is ports along the Ohio River.


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