MADISONVILLE, Ky. (7/10/13) – Hopkins County Chamber members heard remarks from the county's and the city's highest ranking elected officials at special State of the City/County Address luncheon meeting Tuesday, July 9 at the Madisonville Country Club.
The elbow-to-elbow audience listened to updates from Madisonville Mayor David Jackson and Hopkins County Judge-Executive Donald Carroll during the program.
Jackson noted the city's debt reduction during his keynote address as being one of the foremost successes of his administration.
"How can we improve city government?" asked Jackson. "First of all, we have been very committed over the last three years to pay down city debt. The audit right before I came into office had our city debt right at $26.2 million. At the end of this fiscal year, the budget we're in right now, we will have paid down that debt to about $18.5 million. So, that's almost an $8 million reduction in the debt of a city."
Jackson said in the first year in office, his administration reduced the overall budget by $3.9 million.
"We have also reduced the workforce of the city by 10 percent to save as many dollars as possible and to be as efficient as possible," said Jackson. "But at the same time, we've also looked at the consumers and what we can do for you. We've saved the households and businesses in the city of Madisonville a million dollars by decreasing the amount of transfer from the electric department."
The mayor referred to the percent of electric department transfers in profits from the sale of electricity generated by increases from Kentucky Utilities' rate increases. Prior to the meeting, Jackson said the city has made fewer transfers during the last three years.
"By tightening our fiscal belt and not going to the taxpayers for more and more revenue, we are committed to providing the best city services in the region in the most efficient manner," said Jackson.
Jackson said further commitments include bolstering the city's infrastructure including the kickoff of the north side pressure zone that will be developed over the several years. The program will accommodate further expansion in the north side area with sufficient water pressure.
The mayor also touted the success of the single stream recycling effort, (See http://surfky.com/index.php/news/local/hopkins/33952-madisonville-reduces-carbon-footprint-through-recycling), the advanced technology of the Madisonville Police Department and the success of the Go Madisonville customer service program.
Carroll also focused on the positive aspects of county government during his address but likewise mentioned some of its struggles.
As is custom for Carroll, he started his speech with a bit of humor.
"It's nice and warm in here, so I know before we get out of here, you'll agree to a tax increase," said Carroll.
The judge-executive spoke about his connection with the county's early history and ancestors from St. Charles. Then he focused on the accomplishments over the past year.
"It is appropriate that we look back on the last year and what we've been able to accomplish," said Carroll. "It hasn't always been smooth sailing, yet, we, the Fiscal Court, have led, governed, managed tax dollars, and made some difficult decisions that have kept our fiscal house in order. And, our fiscal house is in order."
The judge-executive said Hopkins is a very stable county and that no services have been cut while taxes have not been raised for county services.
"We are blessed with a stable employee base," said Carroll.
Financial concerns have been on the minds of Hopkins County residents, he said.
"Not only have too many people lost their jobs and homes, but their savings and retirements," Carroll said. "Too many businesses have closed or are struggling to stay open. We know our citizens are hurting as we see record numbers of residents seeking help to pay their rent, utilities and other necessities."
Signs indicate that the economy is improving from the depths of the recession three years ago, he said. The county's unemployment rate has gone from 8.4 percent in May 2012 to 7.8 percent in May of this year.
"Although it might not seem a huge reduction, it's a reduction," he said. "And, that is good news to the family units affected."
Carroll said another economic disappointment resulted from reduced coal severance funds. House Bill 265 line item projects amounting to $700,000 were not funded due to the reduction. Similar reductions are anticipated for Fiscal Year 2014, he said.
Some projects did receive coal severance funding including equipment for 14 volunteer fire departments, water tank repairs for Dawson Springs, improvements on water projects at Hanson and White Plains, city hall and park improvements for St. Charles, upgrades at the Ballard Convention Center, renovations at the Rosenwald Smith Multicultural Center and ATV park improvements in Earlington.
Carroll also mentioned upgrades at the Hopkins County Emergency Management Agency, the GIS Department including the Code RED Emergency Notification System and assisting the Hopkins County Sheriff's Office with web-based crime map, the Public Works Department upgrades and the new Public Works building on Laffoon Trail near the Hopkins County Detention Center.
The long-awaited Hopkins County Sports Complex will be entering Phase 2B construction with road sub grade preparation and earthwork, and proposals for a $3 million loan for the project will be opened Wednesday, July 10, he said. The Army Corp of Engineer's permit for the work to proceed at the site off the Pennyrile Parkway has been granted. (See http://surfky.com/index.php/news/local/hopkins/32411-fiscal-court-opens-bids-for-sports-complex-)
Carroll also noted the Hopkins County Attorney's County Attorney Traffic Safety online program, the Hopkins County Clerk's document scanning project and the Hopkins County Detention Center's 57,000 hours of contributed community service.
Rita Dukes Smith
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