By Ben Kleppinger
11:10 AM EST, November 14, 2012
STANFORD — In a split decision, Lincoln County Fiscal Court voted against preventing residents from using to cash to pay for services at Veterans Park like sports sign-ups.
Judge-Executive Jim Adams introduced a proposed amendment at Tuesday's meeting that would have ended the practice of accepting cash for payment for county services at Veterans Park except for concessions sales.
Currently, the county has a policy preventing payment for services in cash, with an exemption for all services connected with Veterans Park, Adams said.
But auditors don't like to see cash transactions on the county's balance sheet, even if there was a receipt made out at the time of the transaction, he explained.
Every year the county accepts cash from residents for services at Veterans Park, there will be a bullet item on the county audit warning against the practice, Adams said.
But magistrates David Faulkner, Joe Stanley and Johnnie Padgett balked at the idea of requiring residents to pay by check or other method so their children can participate in county sports activities.
"I think it creates a problem," Faulkner said. "I understand the issue, but I don't think we've had a problem with it. There are so many people who don't have checking accounts and pay in cash to get their kids enrolled. I think it's putting burden on them."
Adams asked for a motion to make the amendment but it took several moments before Magistrate Bill Dyehouse obliged him.
After several more moments of silence without a second, Adams himself wound up seconding the motion.
When asked for their votes, Stanley and Padgett suggested discussing the matter further in a special session to determine other alternatives.
County Attorney Daryl Day said because the vote was already in the process of being taken, it was too late to table the motion. But that wouldn't prevent magistrates from discussing alternatives and bringing a new amendment up for a vote later, he said.
The motion failed to pass, with Faulkner and Stanley voting against it, Padgett abstaining and Dyehouse and Adams voting in favor.
Court ponders radio upgrade
In other fiscal court business, Emergency Management Director Don Gilliam showed magistrates the proposed cost of upgrading the county's radio communications to a digital system — approximately $50,000.
A federal mandate from the Federal Communications Commission requires all agencies using radios to communicate — like Lincoln's sheriff, coroner and emergency management offices — to upgrade to either digital or "narrow-band" radio systems by Jan. 1, 2013, Gilliam explained.
"Our radio system isn't broke," Gilliam said. "But the federal government is going to have us fix it anyway."
Going digital would mean improved coverage and fewer dead spots, but at a much higher cost than switching to a narrow-band system, which only requires reprogramming the current radios, Gilliam said.
But narrow-banding the county's existing radios won't help with dead spots and could exasperate existing communications issues, Gilliam added.
Gilliam provided a "guesstimate" of $2,500 for the cost to implement the narrow-band option.
If the county doesn't comply with the federal mandate to upgrade its systems by Jan. 1, it could face thousands of dollars in fines or even have its license to use radio communications revoked, Gilliam said.
But it may not be a hard deadline if the county can show progress toward compliance with the new regulations, he added.
"If we can show a good-faith effort, I feel like we will be given a buffer time period to bring everybody forward," Gilliam said.
After discussing various options, including grants and partial upgrades, magistrates agreed to hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. Friday to discuss their options further with Bluegrass 911 Director Russ Clark.