County looks for ways to utilize ‘free’ money for work

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 SHEPHERDSVILLE – There might be some ways to get a little extra help on roadside projects without spending any additional dollars.

Kevin Burch of the state highway department presented Bullitt Fiscal Court members with an opportunity to get more roadside work done by using existing inmates at the detention center.

The county already received reimbursement from the litter abatement program to have inmates clean up along roadways. That program reimburses the county for expenses, such as paying a constable or jail deputy to supervise the inmates.

Burch told members that the state has another similar program which could be utilized year-round.

He would like to see a second crew devoted to litter abatement, as well as other projects relating to roadwork.

Part of the program would be to train the inmates on how to properly do the clean up work. The state would pay for the armed supervisors and could even supply transportation.

Unlike the other program, Burch said the crew could be used on county roads, not just state-maintained roads.

Burch’s goal is to expand the underutilized state program.

Jailer Martha Knox questioned the level of inmate who could participate.

Burch said that the jail determines who is on the work crew. He said there must be an understanding that at some point, one of the inmates will make a bad decision. That is why it is up to the jailer to determine who should be eligible to work.

There is a two-year contract with the state but Burch said he didn’t know why any county would turn down free money.

Fiscal Court members opted to study the situation and allow Knox time to review the program.

In another deal where there might be some money available to the county, the court unanimously agreed to give planning administrator Roanne Hammond the ability to apply for a pair of grants distributed through TARC.

However, Hammond said she didn’t think the county would qualify and she left without any clear-cut projects to apply for.

Hammond told the court members previously that she would like to apply for funds to assist the county facilities with accessibility issues, such as curb cuts for wheelchairs and push button entrances.

She was later told that the money would be for transportation related project and not for facilities.

“We’re losing money people,” Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts told the audience.

She wanted the magistrates to vote on whether or not to apply for the money. The application was due within two days of the meeting.

Roberts said the past group of magistrates did not wish to apply for funds. The county did receive funding for bus shelters but did not move forward due to some questions over liability, future costs and lack of revenue to cover any future expenses.

One agency mentioned as a possible benefactor was the Multi-Purpose Community Action Agency. Board member Bob Combest said it wouldn’t hurt the county to apply for the money.

However, Hammond said it would probably have to be the appropriate agency to make such a request.

Magistrate Ruthie Ashbaugh said that the court is asking Hammond to make an application for funds but there was no project determined.

Despite that question, which was unanswered, the court unanimously voted for Hammond to make the application.

Hammond said she applied for four bus shelters once again. Included in that were curb cuts and ramps on the Louisville Wheels route and the TARC 66 route, which takes passengers into downtown Louisville each day.

She said the bus shelters would give passengers some safety from the weather.

A final notification on the awards could come in late April.

In a program that the county has utilized in the past, court members unanimously approved using flexible transportation from the state on its road maintenance.

Road foreman Jimmy Stivers said the flex funds from the state had in the past been used on maintaining and blacktopping county roads.

The county is anticipated to receive an estimated $119,666 during the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The county had the option of placing those funds into the rural secondary road program, which is administered by the state.