By Allyson Dix
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
The Metcalfe County Fiscal Court tackled several items last week in their meeting including FEMA-related matters and a new program to help with medical expenses for residents in the county. Magistrates Kevin Crane, Daniel Bragg, and Harvey Hawkins were present. Absent was Ronnie Miller.
The county continues to barrel their way through years-long FEMA-related matters especially after the sudden termination of the county’s EM Director Emory Kidd and subsequent voluntary resignations of the two EM Deputies, Lanny Bastin and Daryl Sexton.
A contract was approved by the three magistrates present to hire a consulting company, EUDS, to help filter through old projects dating back to 2015.
John Phelps, with EUDS, commented on the three-year contract in court. Several old disasters remain in limbo as not only incoming deadlines that have already been granted extensions are approaching but some that have already passed.
“We had a conversation with KYEM (KY Emergency Management) last week,” Phelps told the court. “Some of these older events, we will probably have to draft letters to FEMA and KYEM to request more time to dig into records and recover what can be recovered…to try to save you all some money.”
Disaster #4540 has a deadline for work completion in April, Phelps said, adding that immediate request for extensions are needed.
Referring to older disasters dating back to 2015, Phelps said they plan to “try to see what happened there, what’s completed, what’s been documented, and what we can prove in documentation.”
The price tag for the consulting company to assist the county with the FEMA problems was not discussed in detail regarding the numbers in open court. Upon closer review of the contract after the meeting, the Edmonton Herald-News has reached out for clarification on two separate amounts listed in the contract, $31,200 and $187,200. The contract states that these are not-to-exceed amounts.
As of press time, Metcalfe Judge/Executive Larry Wilson clarified the lesser amount is for professional fees and other work fees, and attempts for clarification from Magistrate Bragg have gone unresponsive. Currently, it is unclear what the larger amount means.
Bragg, in the meeting, inquired about the potential for FEMA reimbursements with some of the costs associated with the consulting company.
“With the exception of your fees solving our problems that we’re in, going forward, I know you have your fees [listed] but they’re all within the FEMA percentage allowable to be reimbursed by FEMA,” Bragg questioned.
Phelps said there is a 5-percent management cost on each disaster and that any administrative and management costs are 100% reimbursable.
Bragg motioned to approve the contract, seconded by Hawkins. County Attorney Sharon Howard commented before the vote that she felt it was an excellent contract before Bragg amended his motion to include the language of the contract “as is,” or as presented. The motion passed unanimously.
Additionally, the court voted to approve a resolution designating Judge Wilson as the Applicant Agent. Phelps said as far as FEMA is concerned, “it’s best to have someone within their organization.”
Crane motioned to approve Wilson as applicant agent for the county’s FEMA. The move allows for the judge executive to assume responsibility with FEMA regulations, policies, etc. for use of federal funds.
More information on the FEMA issues will be provided at a later date.
The court approved to commit $2,500 per year for three years to the Community Medical Care (CMC) program of the T.J. Community Mission Foundation (CMF) after Program Coordinator Tina Combs discussed some of the benefits the program will offer to county citizens.
Combs explained CMC joined with CMF last January, which opened the door for local assistance.
“I had always hoped to bring some of these services to Metcalfe County,” Combs said, adding that while working Barren County, she sees senior citizens having to choose between paying bills or taking their needed medications.
Consideration is being taken to have the program housed at the current T.J. Clinic in Edmonton with hopes to be available to begin assisting community members as early as January. Other funding for the program from other organizations are underway as well.
While CMC has been around for 21 years, the joint partnership with TJ’s CMF, which was founded in 2014, will help senior citizens 65 and older with medication co-pays, hearing aids, dentures, and other things. There is a 64 and under program that is also available. Present with Combs was CMF Executive Director Randy Burns.
Judge Wilson positively commented on the assistance program and said he had been looking for things like this to help county residents.
Leslie London and Ronnie Smith were re-appointed to the Extension District Board and the decision was made to remove the Lewis Free Road Bridge due to ongoing problems with flooding. It was noted that the property owners nearby, who are the only ones who use that bridge for the most part, preferred for it to removed. The other option would have been to rebuild it.
Additionally, the court voted to approve the following agenda items: the meeting minutes for Oct. 10, 2023; trick-or-treating hours; Sept. financial statement, quarterly financial report, claims, and budget and/or interfund transfers.
Closed session was had per KRS 61.810 (1)(c)-Litigation, but no action was taken upon return to open court.