The1st meeting of the Budget Review Subcommittee on General Government, Finance, and Public Protection of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue was held on Thursday, July 31, 2003, at 10:00 AM, in Room 125 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Royce Adams, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Kim Townley, Early Childhood Development; Dennis Langford, Housing, Building, and Construction; Betsy Nowland-Curry, Kentucky Commission on Women; Beverly Watts, Kentucky Commission on Human Rights; and Matt Michard, Jefferson County Farm Bureau.
LRC Staff: Sharon Cantrell, Randy Smith, Joe Lancaster, Bart Hardin, and Rhonda Carter.
Chairman Adams directed the members’ attention to the Budget Request in their folders for any changes that have been sent to each of them. He said staff will answer any questions they may have. He noted that the Department of Agriculture had a change of $2,115,000 which was federal funds but consists of several different programs. He asked Harvey Mitchell, Chief of Staff; Brian Dinning, Finance Department; Mark Farrow, General Counsel; and Eddie Duvall to give an overview of the programs for committee members to hear how these federal funds were being utilized.
Harvey Mitchell said that they were presented with a good opportunity to expand some programs to areas which are actively involved. He said there are new grants that have been given to the Department in a variety of areas as listed on the handout. He pointed out that staff who are specialists in those program areas were there to answer any questions.
Chairman Adams asked for a brief overview of what each program entailed. Mr. Mitchell discussed the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) first. The CSFP receives funding from a variety of sources, particularly federal funding. They were given some extra money to increase the program and expand the programming to about 14,000 people. He introduced Pat Cassidy, the specialist in that area, to answer questions regarding CSFP.
Senator Tori noted the statement listed that the Department will utilize the funds to reimburse the local food banks. She asked what the percentage was or were they working on a ratio per pound or what is the reimbursement, and if it goes directly to the food banks.
Pat Cassidy said they would be reimbursed four dollars per person, per month, based on actual cost and USDA regulations stipulate this. Senator Tori asked how they arrived at the four dollars per person. Mr. Cassidy said the caseload of 14,000 was divided between the eligible distributing agencies and they have to track their participants each month, reporting back monthly. Senator Tori asked how many agencies there are in the state of Kentucky that are active food banks. Mr. Cassidy said there are three food banks that they work through. They are Dare-To-Care, God’s Pantry, and American Second Harvest of Kentucky’s Heartland as well as the Purchase Area and Northern Kentucky Area Development Districts.
Mr. Mitchell discussed the Farmers Nutrition Market Program (FNMP) and said they were fortunate to have $770,000 additional federal funding as well as a new program that benefits senior citizens. He said this program allows food coupons to be used at local farmers markets to buy Kentucky-produced items. The Department reimburses the owners of the Farmer’s Markets for the coupons, there are no matching requirements for receipt of those funds, and it is an expanding program. Chairman Adams asked if this was completely separate from the WIC program. Mr. Mitchell referred to Brian Dinning, who said they were completely separate.
Representative Thomas stated that by working with the food banks he knew that the Agriculture Development Board made an appropriation or awarded an application from the Second Harvest Food Bank to purchase equipment and in turn they would purchase commodities from the vegetable co-ops across the state. He asked if the supplemental food program had arrangements between the various food banks and the marketing co-ops around the state. Mr. Mitchell said that a grant from the Agriculture Development Board to buy cold storage and more Kentucky produce items is a good program. He said he did not know if they have a direct link to the farmers market requirement that he was suggesting.
Representative Pullin asked about the Farmers Market Nutrition Program and how the coupons were distributed to the seniors. She was told that there would be fifty sites issuing those coupons in 48 counties through local senior citizens centers, the Office of Aging, and Extension offices. The participants of the Commodity Supplemental Program are also getting the coupons. Representative Pullin asked which counties are involved. The counties affected are Adair, Allen, Anderson, Barren, Bath, Boone, Boyd, Carroll, Carter, Edmondson, Elliott, Floyd, Franklin, Grant, Henry, Hopkins, Jackson, Jessamine, Laurel, Lawrence, Lewis, Logan, Marion, Martin, Mason, Menifee, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Nelson, Pendleton, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Rowan, Russell, Taylor, and Woodford, and they are all through the Senior Center sites or the Extension Offices. There are fourteen counties through CSFP and they are Anderson, Boyle, Bullitt, Carroll, Franklin, Garrard, Henry, Jefferson, Lincoln, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer, and Trimble. Representative Pullin asked how those sites were chosen. The counties chosen are based on the amount of need in those senior centers and the counties also must have a farmers market.
Mr. Mitchell continued on with the USDA Cost Share Program $50,000 grant from the Federal Government which deals with helping organic producers become certified. It pays for 75 percent of the cost of the license and the certification from their department.
He continued speaking on the Web-Based Marketing Grant for $65,000 saying it is a federally funded grant which involves the utilization of funds that were not spent in the previous year. It is a state match requirement that will be provided through any kind of contribution of existing administrative salaries and related expenses. This would be basically helping producers develop their web site marketing business. He then discussed the Homeland Security Grant and said they are excited about their involvement and interaction with other agencies who deal with the issues of Homeland Security. He said the Kentucky Agriculture Department has been very active with other agencies in state government and around the country and dealing with regional exercises. Particularly the detection, prevention and eradication of animal diseases, along with a host of new issues including monkey pox. He directed any questions about Homeland Security to Dr. Hall, Coordinator for the Department.
Chairman Adams stated that he thought that was an area that we need to keep abreast of because as we read in the papers about mad cow disease overseas and things of that nature, it could very easily attack us here, and with the transition to more beef cattle in our state, it would be a major blow.
Chairman Adams asked if the committee could be updated on the Animal Shelter Program. He said in the last budget, funds were provided through bonding and he would like an update regarding the other moneys donated in the previous budget. Mr. Mitchell turned that question over to Mr. Farrow who is the Staff Coordinator with the Animal Control Advisory Board. Mr. Farrow stated that the General Assembly did give the program $1.6 million as part of a capital construction bond package. He said the bonds will be sold August 5 and they will close on August 25. They will assume that the funds will be available for the counties again mid- to early September. He said once those funds are available again, they will send applications to all 120 counties. Those that apply will be awarded based on judgement of the Animal Control Advisory Board. The Department administers the program but the 12-person Advisory Board makes the decision as to where the construction and renovation funds go. He expressed that there is a great need for additional funds for the animal shelters. He said in the year 2000 the General Assembly, with the assistance of Chairman Adams, put $1 million into the Construction Renovation Program for shelters and that is really what got the progress started and going well. He said there was $1 million issued in two $500,000 increments. In the first round there were 39 grant requests for $2.4 million and they had $500,000 to spend. He said they funded ten counties and the average grant overall for both rounds of funding has been around $50,000, some got more and some less. A tri-county regional facility was funded for Clinton, Cumberland and Wayne Counties which was just recently finished and opened and is ready for business. In the second round there was another $500,000 with 26 grant requests for $1.8 million and that one also averaged $50,000. In all, it has been possible to fund 21 grants that affects 26 different counties. They have personally inspected seven of the shelters that have used the funds and he said the money is being spent well. They visited Grant County and are very impressed with their progress there. He said the Hardin County Shelter has an excellent staff and of the seven counties they have visited, the Judges are very interested in animal control. They hope to assist another 20 –25 counties with these funds. He said there are counties out there that have very good shelters but there is still a long way to go. In addition, the General Assembly also allocated over the biennium $70,000 each year for operational funds. They used some of that money for equipment grants. He said all counties are short on equipment such as catch poles, cages, gloves, etc., the basic equipment that any animal control officer needs to protect themselves when doing their job. He said there were 59 applications limited to $1,000 and unfortunately three of those came in well after the deadline and could not be considered so there were 56 equipment grants for a total of $53,529.70. This is being paid on a reimbursement basis. He said they will also use a portion of the $70,000 allocated this year for the equipment program. He said they are very pleased with the progress that is being made in all the counties.
Mr. Farrow stated there is another source of revenue coming in, thanks to Senator Buford who sponsored the Bill, and the rest of the General Assembly that voted for and passed the spay/neuter license plate legislation. He said they received the 900 required plates quickly and the Transportation Cabinet advised them that they reached the 900 quicker than any other special license plate ever has. They continue to get calls about that plate every day and $10.00 of the plate fee goes into animal control for strictly spay/neuter programs.
Representative Pullin stated that she noticed that multi-county shelters had been mentioned which sounds like a good efficient use of taxpayers’ money. She asked if the grant process will give multi-county shelters any special consideration. Mr. Farrow said they are given special consideration. It was one of the things that the animal control board looked at and determined was the best utilization of the money.
Representative Siler said that Knox and Whitley counties are together with three cities being Barbourville, Corbin, and Williamsburg making it five units of government participating in one shelter. Mr. Farrow said that by statute and by law it is the county’s responsibility to operate and maintain the shelter but certainly with the city’s assistance it makes the job much easier for them. He said they do not discourage the cities from getting involved. He said in summary that they are making great progress statewide and are proud of their programs.
Chairman Adams said he was encouraged by the way things are moving. Henry County has signed a contract with Jefferson County to pick up their strays. They would like to see that happen in counties close to a metropolitan area with a well manned animal shelter to help alleviate any problem they have. Mr. Farrow said it is nice to see professional people working in these shelters with law enforcement or animal control backgrounds and employees taking the training to do what is needed for the shelters.
Mr. Farrow stated that Representative Thomas has been very gracious over the last two sessions to sponsor the amendments to the Animal Control Law in Kentucky and wanted to state publicly how much his efforts and sponsorship of that bill is appreciated.
Chairman Adams entertained a motion to accept the budget request increase and the motion was seconded. The secretary called the roll and the motion was accepted.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10:50.