Fiscal Court sets $1,600 radio, pager account limit

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

General Manager

County fire departments now will be able to purchase radio and pager equipment directly instead of applying for 911 funds through the Henry County Fiscal Court.

Magistrate Jerry Beasley proposed a motion that each fire department receive an annual allocation of $1,600 for such equipment.

"On (the) 911 pagers, batteries and radios, I'd like to make a motion that we cap it at $1,600 for the radios, pagers and batteries. That way the fire departments can purchase whichever one they want.

"Every month we have a meeting, one needs a radio, one needs batteries. It's about what we've been spending anyway. (This is) just strictly for the fire departments."

All other county agencies, he said, still would have to make their requests through the county's 911 committee.

Judge-Executive John Logan Brent said Deputy Judge-Executive Peggy Bryant would keep track of the expenditures, but added that J&N would be asked to monitor the departments' expenditures.

"(We'll) ask her to have a conversation with Joe at J&N and put him on alert that they each are going to have a $1,600 credit, and for him to keep an eye on it because (if) somebody comes in with an order for six pagers, he (can) let them know they're only going to cover so much."

Brent added later that he felt the change would have positive results.

"We get requests for anything from $400 radios to $450 radios," he said. "This way, it will kind of be their money."

In other business, the court:

• held discussion on a cost recovery program. Jason Long spoke to the court about Cost Recovery Corporation and its services to recover service fees from non-residents for various agencies - including fire or police departments, and city or county governments 8 when emergency personnel are needed.

"What we do is we bill the non-residents ... (it's) no cost to the tax-payers of the county or the district of the fire departments. It's just billing the people that are coming in from out of town," he said. Long said the service helps departments recoup gasoline and maintenance costs by billing service fees to the insurance companies of individuals involved in accidents.

Beasley expressed concern about the concept, saying it could hurt tourism.

"You're trying to get people in Henry County for (tourism) because you've got Renaissancce over here," he said. "We have all these arts ... in the county, I have trouble penalizing people for coming into the county.

"It seems like you're working against yourself."

Magistrate Wayne Gunnell stressed that the program was not a tax, but a service fee.

Magistrate Nick Hawkins expressed concern about the program, saying "I think we're going to get into a dangerous situation." He added that Eminence recently approved the program, which could mean the insurance company for a resident of New Castle could be billed if involved in an accident in Eminence. Long did say the person determined to be at fault would be the person billed.

"I think there's a lot of legalities we need to look into," Hawkins said.

Gunnell later said he'd like the county to consider adopting a cost recovery program for commercial drivers. He also said the county didn't need to make a decision right away.

• discussed and approved a resolution for the application for a 2008 recreational trails grant.

Brent said the county could apply for a maximum of a $100,000 grant, that would require a 50% match. He added that the match did not have to be monetary, but could include in kind donations.

• heard a presentation from Girl Scouts troop 372 about raising awareness of recycling.

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