By Brent Schanding
Landmark News Service
Henry County could fare well under a state spending plan passed Wednesday by House lawmakers that includes millions in earmarked funds for local projects over the next biennium.
"I'm extremely pleased with the House budget," Judge-Executive John Logan Brent said. "We got every water and sewer project that we asked for."
The House budget, which awaits Senate approval, tags several millions more for 'clean' coal initiatives to curb dependency on heavy polluting coal and natural gas plants. An additional $52 million would be spent over the next biennium for unspecified Homeland Security measures.
Tax changes - including a 25-cent increase to the cigarette tax and increases in the state tax on other tobacco products would create new funding under House plans. Debt refinancing could free up additional money for the state.
But a Republican-controlled Senate has planned to ax those proposed tax increases.
About $13 million of this biennium's budget will directly finance projects in Henry County.
"There are many water and sewer projects in there," Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, who helped draft the bill, said.
More than $1.25 million in bonds could partly be used for a wastewater treatment plant expansion in Eminence; wastewater line extensions in New Castle; construction of wastewater lines to the new Henry County park; a pumping station for the Campbellsburg Industrial Park; and an upgraded water tower in Pleasureville.
"This budget is not perfect. I know times are tight in Frankfort," Brent said. "But these water and sewer projects that we need for the county to move forward are in the budget."
More than $10 million for the county could be secured under State Highway construction plans. About $1 million of that could be used for a study to improve Ky. 146, a main access connector to Interstate 71. It could lead to the creation of plans to straighten out the curvy road and drive economic development to New Castle and other areas in the county.
"It's a several step process," Brent said. "This basically gets the ball rolling."
House leaders couldn't muster much money for mental health programs, meals-on-wheels programs and education initiatives as they hoped, Rand said.
"But it's probably a fairly good budget under bad circumstances. For the most part we were able to hold our own," Rand said. "It's tough times."
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