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County passes $17 million budget

After much discussion over cutting line items from the 2018 budget, the Pike County Commission decided to pass it without cuts to allow for time to consider changes.

Two items– janitorial services and air conditioner maintenance– will be reevaluated at the end of the first quarter while the commission has vowed to consider the county’s contribution to programs such as the Pike Area Transit System (PATS) and the Pike County Extension Office over the next 12 months.

The budget, which is balanced between revenues and expenditures as required by the state, comes in at $17.37 million. Almost everything in the budget is level-funded from the previous year.

Although few changes were made this year, commissioners foreshadowed tougher decisions to come after some of the programs and services are thoroughly re-evaluated.

“Even with amounts as small as $2,000 or $3,000, we need to realize our budget is that tight,” said Commissioner Chad Copeland, District 4. “We’ve set a lot of targets over next 12 months so that next year we’ll be sitting in a better financial spot.”

Copeland and Russell Johnson, District 6, have spearheaded a 24-month plan to attack debt and restructure finances to free up money to be spent repairing local roads.

“Part of this started 10 years ago with a plan to get ourselves out of debt,” said Chairman Robin Sullivan, District 2. “What we foresaw back then is about to be coming to fruition. I think it’s going to be a great project that we can look forward to. Hopefully, that’s where we’re going to be¬– able to fix our own roads in our own county where we haven’t had any money in the past 50 years to do anything with them.”

Officials representing the Pike County Extension Office and Miller Development Group spoke to the commission about their services and how they use county funds.

The extension office receives $17,500 under the new budget, which goes completely to funding the salary of an assistant that goes into five local schools to teach the 4h curriculum. Miller Development Group receives $24,000 to lobby for the commission and to help get local bills passed in the State Legislature. Both received funding.

In other business, the commission:

• Approved up to $12,000 in emergency expenditures on materials used to repair a cross-drain on County Road 2219 over the weekend after a “beaver dam upstream broke and exacerbated the problem” according to county engineer Russell Oliver.

• Approved two resolutions regarding the Meeksville Shelter project to satisfy the Hazard Mitigation plan including the approval of Eddie Culpepper as the project manager and authorizing Chairman Sullivan to act on behalf of the commission.

• Approved the estimated project agreement for the Meeksville Shelter project, which is projected to cost approximately $240,000 of which the county will pay $60,000 toward.

• Approved liability insurance as is with the option to pick up a cyber liability rider for an additional $6,500 at a later time.

• Cancelled the regularly scheduled meeting for October 9 due to it coinciding with Veterans Day.

The commission will meet again on Monday, October 23 upstairs at the Pike County Health Department.

They will begin with a work session at 5:15 p.m. and follow with a business meeting at 6 p.m.