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Barren County Fiscal Court – Justice Center Clarity

Jeff Jobe
CEO/Owner Jobe Publishing, Inc.

GLASGOW, Ky. – Breach in agreement, size of project, bonding capacity, costs, debt servicing of existing courthouse, and maintaining control were topics discussed in a September 8 letter to the Barren County Fiscal Court (BCFC) from the Administrative Offices of the Court (AOC).

Laurie Dudgeon, Director of the AOC, wrote that the August 24, 2021 BCFC meeting vote placed the court in breach of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which required an approval to an Addendum to proceed with authorizing the Barren County Property Corporation bonding process.

There was no indication what-so-ever that this breach reference had anything to do with any specific project proposal or the one pitched to Glasgow City Council or the Barren County Magistrates.

This BCFC meeting was divided and had heated discussions over who would have input, and this letter attempted to shed some light that the AOC does these projects with a purpose of keeping the local communities involved.

Dudgeon wrote in her letter that this is why they have the county Judge/Executive as Chairman. The letter defined the reason being that, “…typically a county judge/executive is vocal on matters important to the public, including the location, and exterior finishes.”

The meeting of August 24 had magistrates Carl Dickerson, Jeff Botts, and Kenneth Sartin voting against the Addendum because they had unanswered question involving those specific issues.

The letter went on to detail examples of how the AOC has cooperated in trying to accommodate something agreeable with design professionals working on six site considerations and hosting a public hearing for community input on May 6, 2021.

An issue with the letter not yet clarified is that no one can quantify what those six sites might be, including Judge/Executive Michael Hale. Hale, the Chairman of the Project Development Board (PDB), said he is only aware of four considerations: the city property located on West Main Street beside the Post Office; US Bank building located at 200 South Green Street on the south/east corner of the square; the Baptist Church parking lot at the corner of South Green and W. Wayne streets; and the Newberry/Gaunce building located at W. Public Square.

Some of the confusion could be the disconnect between what it means to have received a site proposal and to have reviewed a potential site location. There is a formal process of submitting a site proposal. This is what was advertised in the Barren County Progress, and no site proposals were received. Although Hale isn’t aware of six discussions, there very well could have been others discussed in closed session. He said this is a question to be asked of Dudgeon.

The May 6, 2021 public meeting was conducted by District Judge John Alexander as Hale was out of town with family. It was reported that no formal proposals were submitted.

The letter detailed how the size of the project is determined, how costs were calculated, and that bonding for future projects would not be hindered because of issuing bonds to cover this project. It further detailed that the project does not have any mechanism for the county or the judicial branch to keep or obtain any funding associated with this bonding because any savings would be required to pay down the debt service.

A concern for existing courthouse debt was defined as it being serviced and occupied through the fiscal year ending of 2025, leaving only four years in the current note ending in 2029.

A public notice has been received for a special called meeting regarding this issue to be held on Tuesday September 14 at 5 p.m. in the District Court Room at the Barren County Court House. An approved Addendum is expected, look for details of this meeting in next week’s issue of the Barren County Progress.

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