CATLETTSBURG Boyd County Fiscal Court held a first reading for an ordinance that would officially make both the county clerk’s office and the Boyd County Sheriff’s office fee pooling systems.

A fee pooling office turns its funds over to the fiscal court, which, in turn, handles the finances. The fee office operates on the funds it makes during the year. Judge-Executive Eric Chaney said this process would be make the clerk’s office more financially secure because it would have the backing of the fiscal court.

“I’m here to do what I need to do and that is to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer money,” said Chaney.

County Clerk Debbie Jones could not be reached for a comment.

In June, the fiscal court made cuts to the county clerk’s office. The court was reimbursing the office for employee retirement cost, which totaled around $187,000 yearly in backpay.

Chaney looked at Jones’s budget for the 2020 calendar year and saw the reimbursements for federal taxes and retirement cost were still included in her budget.

He said the county clerk hadn’t used the entirety of her budget. The budget for the last five years was $15,790,000 plus or minus $100,000, but the expenses on the reports from 2017 until 2018 were below $14.2 million.

Chaney offered Jones a budget of $14.9 million, but Jones declined because she said it was too low.

There are 24 employees at the county clerk’s office, according to 2020 calendar budget.

“I believe it is in the best interest of that office to fee pool that office because if there is ever financial strain on that office in any way shape or form, they are backed fullheartedly by the fiscal court,” said Chaney.

The sheriff’s department was included in this ordinance because it has previous operated under this system as the result of a “gentlemen’s agreement.” Sheriff Bobby Jack Woods said this system was put in place in 2010 under the previous sheriff.

“I have no problem with it,” said Woods. “They approve my budget and, yes, they do have some control over the budget, but at the end of the year, they (the two courts he has worked with) have always listened to my needs and concerns and taken care of them.”

Woods said the system has worked well for him.

Chaney, commissioner Keith Watts and commissioner Randy Stapleton all voted in favor of this ordinance.

Commissioner Larry Brown voted in opposition.

“I think, as an elected official, the clerk has the responsibility of setting their own budget,” said Brown. “I know the fee pooling has worked in other departments, but presently I can’t support (it). I think the clerk has done a good job for 35 years.”

A second reading of the ordinance is required to make it final.

The court continued the meeting by approving the county clerk’s salary cap and budget. The budget had an increase from the 2019 calendar year.

The budget is set for $15.7 million and the salary cap will be $1.5 million.

The court also approved the notice for KACO FEMA lease and accepted a $5,000 donation from Marathon Petroleum. The donation goes to the Boyd County Sheriff’s Department.

The next fiscal court meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 4, at noon.

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tevans@dailyindependent.com

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