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Fiscal court debates cost of expanding animal control, taking over pet adoptions

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021 — Judge Executive Dean Watts led a discussion about the options for the county taking over the county’s complete animal control operation that’s now assisted by the local Humane Society.

The Humane Society has advised the court it wants to withdraw from the day-to-day operations of the animal shelter, and at its meeting Tuesday, Watts provided the court with ballpark estimates for hiring an additional animal control officer and two part time employees to handle rescues and adoptions.

Magistrates Keith Metcalfe and Gary Coulter asked to see supporting documentation to show the county needs to spend the $113,605 in extra money to fund the additional salaries.

Because the shelter makes money from adoption fees, the county will receive at least $40,000 annually in adoption fees which will offset some of the costs, Watts explained.

Watts said his figures represented a “worst case” scenario as far as expenses go. The real expenses are likely to be less than projected, he told the court.

Watts’ proposal is to add one more fulltime animal control officer — a proposal Metcalfe questioned. He and Coulter both asked to see the number of calls that Animal Control responds to each month.

Metcalfe suggested that the county hire a part-time animal control officer, an idea Watts said that given today’s employment environment, really wasn’t workable.

“The county needs two fulltime animal control officers,” he told the court.

Nelson County Sheriff Ramon Pineiroa said Nelson County Dispatch has received nearly 300 animal-related calls for the year, and 49 in he past month.

No vote was taken, but the magistrates agreed to look at additional data on the need for a second animal control officer at the next Fiscal Court meeting.

Watts promised the magistrates that he’ll call for a vote on the measure at the first fiscal court meeting in January.

SHORT-TERM RENTAL DISCUSSION. Judge Watts told the court about the City of Bardstown’s recent approval of a 90-day moratorium on short-term rentals that will allow an update to thel 2017 regulations governing short-term rentals.

Applicants seeking to use a property for a short-term rental must obtain a conditional use permit among other requirements. City and county boards of adjustment are the bodies that grant such permits.

The county has 70 short-term rentals scattered across the county, and the city and county boards of adjustments are asking for additional guidance from the legislative bodies when considering applications for new short-term rentals.

The magistrates decided not to impose a similar moratorium, but they are interested in the changes that the city’s board of adjustment makes to the city short-term rental regulations as an example of possible changes to the county’s regulations on short-term rentals.

SIGN OF THE TIMES. Assistant county road supervisor Lee Mattingly said that an increasing number of road signs are being stolen across Nelson County. The theft of the signs is a crime, and not a victimless one — without road signs in place, emergency vehicles may have problems locating an address during an emergency.

Judge Executive Dean Watts said that the road department had spent 75 percent of its sign budget already while just halfway through the budge year.

Mattingly asked that anyone who sees road signs in a garage or man cave to return the signs to the county.

ROAD DEPARTMENT. County engineer Brad Spalding reported that work is underway on the replacement of the Woodlawn Bridge. It should be completed by the end of January.

The bridge replacement work on Dee Head Road is expected to begin Dec. 27th and take about 90 days to complete.

In other business, the council:

— approved a memorandum of agreement between the county, the City of Bardstown and the North Nelson Water District.

— approved a motion to declare a 0.44 acre tract of land at the end of Love Ridge Road as surplus so it can be sold by the county at a later time.

— approved replacing the engine of an EMS ambulance. An EMS ambulance enroute to assist with storm recovery in Western Kentucky experienced an engine failure in Grayson County. The court approved $17,093 to purchase a complete replacement diesel engine.

NEXT UP. Nelson Fiscal Court’s next meeting is 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan 4, 2021, in the second-floor fiscal court meeting room at the Old Courthouse.

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