• 72°

Commission OKs budget, EMA employee

The Pike County Commission went into executive session Monday night prior to approving the $12 million FY2011 budget that includes a 1.5 percent across the board cost of living pay raise for county employees and elected officials and funding for an additional fulltime EMA employee.

Commission Chairman Jimmy Barron said the approval process had been a long one and expressed appreciation to the staff for all the hard work that has gone into the process.

“And, I thank the commissioners for working together on the budget,” Barron said.

Commissioner Charlie Harris said coming to an agreement on the FY2011 budget was the hardest that it has been in his 20 years.

The 1.5 percent cost of living pay raise was agreed upon by the commissioners at the Sept. 21 meeting, as was the hiring of the additional EMA employee. However, at Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Oren Fannin expressed concern about the hiring of another fulltime EMA position and suggested waiting until Christmas to make a decision and then hiring based on specified qualifications.

Jeanna Barnes, EMA director, submitted a job description for the new position and it was approved by the commission.

“The new position requires specific skills and a lot of education,” Barnes said. “And, at some point, we need to write a new job description for the EMA director’s position. It is outdated.”

The commission approved the hiring of the position, but members did not specify in open meeting how the hiring process will be handled.

Barnes also asked the commission for $2,500 matching funds in order complete a $33,000 EMPG grant.

“We have about $15,000 in EMPG grant funds that must be spent before the grant expires or we lose the money,” Barnes said. “Only certain things such as technology, sirens, alarm systems, furniture and booster signal service are allowed under the grant program.”

The commission approved the request of the $2,500 matching funds.

The commission voted to renew its liability insurance with the Witherington Insurance Group at a lower premium with increased coverage and approved a contract with S & W Computer Service, which is included in the budget.

Fannin brought the county’s driveway policy before the commission but no action was taken.

Presently, the county installs driveways at no cost to the property owner except the cost of the pipe and maintains the driveways at no cost the life of the pipe.

Russell Oliver, county engineer, said the cost of the installation is between $500 and $3,000 depending on the site and size. Maintaining the driveways is “expensive” Oliver said.

The commissioners approved the county’s holiday calendar with two additional half days, one on Nov. 24 and the other on Dec. 23.