Thethird meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government was held on Wednesday, October 24, 2001, at 10:00 AM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Albert Robinson, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Albert Robinson, Co-Chair; Representative Steve Riggs, Co-Chair; Senators David Boswell, Ernie Harris, Alice Kerr, Ernesto Scorsone, Elizabeth Tori, and Johnny Turner; Representatives John Adams, Adrian Arnold, Scott Brinkman, Jim Callahan, Ron Crimm, Mike Denham, Jon Draud, Charlie Hoffman, Stan Lee, Marie Rader, William Scott, Arnold Simpson, Brandon Smith, Roger Thomas, and Jim Wayne.
Guests: Senator Dan Seum, Louisville; Representative Rick Nelson, Middlesboro; William O’Banion, Owen County Judge/Executive; Eddie Rogers, Taylor County Judge/Executive; Lisa Wilson, Boone County Planning Commission; Bill Hintz, Governor’s Office for Policy and Management; Ed Ross, Finance and Administration Cabinet; Sheriff Ted Collins, Franklin County; Sheriff Pat Morgan, Kenton County; Deputy Sheriff Mike Mettich, Jefferson County; Sheriff Kathy Witt, Fayette County; City of Fort Mitchell Mayor Tom Holocher, Sylvia Lovely, Bill Thielen, Bert May, Joe Ewalt, and Bill Hamilton, Kentucky League of Cities; McClean County Judge/Executive Larry Whitaker, Bob Arnold, Denny Nunnelley, and Tim Sturgill, Kentucky Association of Counties; Jody Lassiter and Steve Gregory, Department for Local Government; Henderson County Judge/Executive Sandy Watkins, Meade County Judge/Executive Mark Brown, Larue County Judge/Executive Tommy Turner, Pulaski County Judge/Executive Darrell Beshears, David Martin and Shellie Hampton, Kentucky County Judge/Executives Association; Bill Welty, Chairman, John Bruner, Cumberland Valley Area Development District, Jack Scriber, KIPDA Area Development District, Wendell Lawrence, Lincoln Trail Area Development District, and Jack Couch, Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts; Bill Drury, Jim McClanahan, and Richard Tanner, Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association; Mayor Bill Brown and Ed Meece, City of Bardstown; Carl Sumner, Insurance Institute of Kentucky; Richard Frymire, Hopkins County Judge/Executive; Kirby Ramsey, City of Bowling Green; Mayor Karen Cunningham, City of Madisonville; John Settles, Washington County Judge/Executive; Judge Dean Watts and John Kelley, Nelson County; Lyle Cobb, Municipal Electric Power Association of Kentucky; Sandra Shroat Bush, Kentucky Teachers Retirement System; Wade Helm, Kentucky Conservation Committee; Bob Benson, City of Louisville; Bob Wiseman, Lexington-Fayett Urban-County Government; and John Cooper, Georgetown/Scott County Chamber of Commerce.
LRC Staff: Jamie Franklin, Donna Gaines, Mark Mitchell, Joe Pinczewski-Lee, Alice Carter, Paula Payne, Rebecca Mullins, and Cheryl Walters.
Upon the motion of Representative Draud, seconded by Representative Brinkman, the minutes of the September 26, 2001 meeting were approved.
The first order of business was a report of the Advisory Committee on City and County Relations. Senator Robinson recognized Senator Dan Seum and Representative John Adams, who co-chaired the advisory committee. Representative Adams reported that the advisory committee had just completed their work and had approved 02 RS BR 312, AN ACT relating to the coordination of local government finance. He explained that BR 312 creates an optional process relating to the creation of tax based coordination agreements for local governments. Senator Seum thanked the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo), the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC), and other groups that had worked on the legislation. He asked that the committee take a good look at this legislation because it is needed.
The next order of business was discussion of the siting of cellular towers in counties that do not have planning and zoning. Representative Riggs recognized Judge/Executive William O’Banion, Owen County, Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers, Taylor County, and Ms. Lisa Wilson, Boone County Planning Commission. Judge/Executive O’Banion asked that the committee look at giving ability to counties that do not have planning and zoning and do not plan on adopting planning and zoning, to regulate the location of cellular towers. He said right now, counties without planning and zoning cannot regulate cellular tower sites. Judge/Executive O’Banion explained that KRS 100.987 needs to be amended by taking out the words “planning and zoning.” Judge/Executive O’Banion noted that the Public Service Commission (PSC) rejected the registration of wireless towers because Owen County does not have planning and zoning. Judge/Executive Rogers asked that the committee take a close and hard look at this issue. He said this is needed for all 120 counties.
Representative Draud commented that he serves on the Smart Growth Task Force and that incentives are coming out of that task force to urge counties to plan. Judge/Executive O’Banion stated that he is not in favor of planning and that the majority of his constituency is not in favor of it.
Representative Lee asked Judge/Executive O’Banion who told him that counties without planning and zoning cannot regulate cellular sites. He replied that PSC staff told him. Representative Lee also asked if he got that in writing. Judge/Executive O’Banion answered no, that he was told on the telephone. Representative Lee asked who at the PSC told him that counties without planning zoning cannot regulate cellular sites. Ms. Wilson replied Debra Eversole, General Counsel for the PSC.
Representative Lee asked Judge/Executive O’Banion if his county already has cell towers. Judge/Executive O’Banion said yes, but they were built before he took office. Representative Lee asked him to provide a list of the cellular towers’ addresses and owners. He suggested that representatives of the PSC be invited to appear before the committee.
Senator Boswell commented that regulation of cell towers goes beyond state control. He agreed that the committee should hear from the PSC. Senator Boswell said he would like to know what the federal regulations were also.
Representative Riggs stated that regulation is a local issue. He noted that he tried to change it with legislation in 1996, but cellular tower lobbyists spent a lot of money to get the legislation defeated. Representative Riggs said the PSC has the final say because the legislature could not change it. He added that having a cellular tower in a backyard is a local issue, not a state issue.
Representative Wayne commented that two separate issues are being discussed: (1) control of cellular tower placement and (2) the question of planning and zoning, and how the two tie together. He said that he also serves on the Smart Growth Task Force and that no applications for placement of cellular towers have been rejected. Representative Wayne noted that legislation will not do any good. He encouraged the county judges and others to be leaders in planning and zoning. Representative Wayne explained that planning should not be rejected if it is presented properly. He added that planning is coordinating what you are already doing. Judge/Executive O’Banion stated that his county is planning but they are not under a planning commission. Judge/Executive Rogers stated that Taylor County is looking at the possibility of planning.
Representative Crimm commented that there will be another day to hear about planning and zoning. He said he would like to hear from the PSC also.
The next order of business was review of 02 RS BR 805, AN ACT relating to cemetery maintenance. Senator Robinson recognized Representative Rick Nelson, sponsor of BR 805. Representative Nelson explained that BR 805 would require fiscal courts to create a county cemetery board or to give an existing board the authority to apply for grants up to $10,000 contingent on funds to maintain cemeteries that do not receive perpetual care funds. He told the committee that the idea for this legislation came from meeting with concerned citizens about the many neglected cemeteries in Bell County. He noted that he had visited 20 cemeteries in Bell County. However, neglected cemeteries are not unique to Bell County.
Representative Wayne told Representative Nelson that the Attorney General has a task force addressing this issue. He suggested that Representative Nelson talk with Representative Meeks who serves on that task force. Representative Nelson said he would talk with Representative Meeks.
Representative Draud asked if fiscal courts have cemetery boards now. Representative Nelson replied that magistrates are busy with other things. He said he believes that an independent group of citizens could do a better job.
Senator Boswell agreed that it would be a good idea to work with the Attorney General’s task force on this issue. He asked Commissioner Jody Lassiter of the Department for Local Government, for his comments regarding Representative Nelson’s bill. Commissioner Lassiter stated that the Department is open to discussing the bill draft with Representative Nelson. However, he feels that it would be a burden for some local governments to undertake the maintenance of cemeteries.
Representative Lee asked what this would cost on an annual basis. Representative Nelson replied $1.2 million each year. Representative Lee commented that most cemeteries are privately owned.
Representative Riggs stated that because BR 805 had not yet officially been referred to the committee by LRC, the committee could take no official action on the proposal.
The next order of business was a discussion relating to the funding for sheriff's deputies from court security funds regulated by the Finance and Administration Cabinet. Representative Riggs recognized Mr. Bill Hintz with the Governor’s Office for Policy and Management, and Mr. Ed Ross with the Finance and Administration Cabinet. Mr. Ross explained that the circuit clerks collect a $7 fee and send it in monthly to the Finance Cabinet along with about 27 other fees they collect ($3.3 million annually collected). He said the sheriff sends in monthly requests for reimbursement, including the provision of court security. Last year, $5.5 million was paid back out of the General Fund. Mr. Ross pointed out that the increased funds coming from the filing of court cases were being put into the state's General Fund which could also be used for other costs than just salaries.
Mr. Hintz told the committee that this was a complicated issue and misunderstood. He explained that in addition to the $7 court cost fee, sheriffs get $5 for court security. He said they also currently receive, at reimbursement, $8 an hour for court security. Mr. Hintz stated that court security costs were continually rising and that all available funds were being used. He noted these increases included an additional number of employees and additional equipment purchases but not an increase in the hourly wage paid to the county for the services of the deputy sheriffs.
Representative Riggs asked how much money was raised by SB 326. Mr. Ross replied that the $7 additional fee generated $2.3 million for nine months, and an estimated $3.3 million for 12 months. Mr. Hintz added that it had been estimated in the fiscal note to be $4 million. He noted that the receipts are not measuring up to the estimates. Mr. Ross explained that the $7 is paid to sheriffs based on reports they file requesting reimbursement, and signed off by the judge.
Representative Draud asked if the sheriffs are getting the additional $7. Mr. Hintz replied no, that they get reimbursed at a rate of $8 per hour.
Representative Thomas asked if the $8 per hour rate of compensation had changed. Mr. Hintz replied that it did not change.
Representative Riggs asked Mr. Ross to provide the committee with a breakdown of where the $7 fee went. Mr. Ross said he would provide that information.
Franklin County Sheriff Ted Collins told the committee that it is all about money because of the unfunded mandates. He said conflict happens when there is an increased demand from the judges for court security, transportation of prisoners, etc. Sheriff Collins stated that the whole funding system for sheriffs is a problem. He said the demands are unbelievable.
Kenton County Sheriff Pat Morgan stated that there is a $400,000 shortfall in funding court security in Kenton County. He noted that there is no additional funding at this time and no overtime is paid. His office is providing court security by not having as many road deputies.
Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Mike Hettich told the committee that there is a $3 million shortfall a year in court security in Jefferson County. He said they are 19 people short now in court security. Deputy Sheriff Hettich noted that $8 an hour is not enough. He said they cannot keep people.
Fayette County Sheriff Kathy Witt told the committee that off duty security pays more than court security provided by the sheriff. She asked for the committee’s support.
Representative Draud commented that this should have been two separate issues. He asked if there was an increase in funds to the sheriffs after the 2000 Regular Session. Sheriff Collins replied that there was no increase. He said the increase went to the General Fund to help pay the $8 per hour, not to the sheriffs. Representative Draud also asked if the $8 per hour wage rate for court security was causing the major deficit. Sheriff Collins replied “yes.”
Senator Kerr commented that in light of the September 11 attack, we need more protection. She stated that this issue needed to be rectified.
The last order of business was presentation of 2002 legislative platforms from local government interest groups and agencies. Senator Robinson first recognized Ms. Sylvia Lovely, Executive Director of the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC). Ms. Lovely told the committee that KLC had three broad areas of interest for the 2002 Regular Session: revenue, environmental, and administrative. She then introduced Mayor Tom Holocher, President of KLC, to expand on the three issues.
Mayor Holocher explained that the revenue issues included city/county tax conflicts, communications excise tax, historic homes tax credit, tour bus tax repeal, expansion of restaurant tax, and tax reform. He said the environmental issues included mandatory garbage collection and growth management. Mayor Holocher told the committee that the administrative issues included prevailing wage, mandatory collective bargaining, model procurement code (bid advertising threshold), joint public safety training center, elected city official salaries, workers’ compensation, smoking policy changes, and enterprise zones.
Representative Callahan asked if KLC was going to take a different approach this time regarding a tax credit for historic homes. Ms. Lovely replied “yes,” that it is a work in progress. Representative Callahan told Ms. Lovely that he would like to work closely with KLC on that issue.
Representative Adams asked how much trouble it would be to see how many cities took advantage of the 4% tax rate increase pursuant to HB 44 during the last three years. Ms. Lovely stated that KLC staff is doing research on that but they do not have it completed yet.
Representative Smith stated that he was concerned with the expansion of the restaurant tax. He said it was not good for KLC to be pushing that. Ms. Lovely replied that it would be optional and would be left up to each local government. She noted that it would not be mandated by the state.
Senator Robinson next introduced Mr. Bob Arnold, Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo). Mr. Arnold told the committee that KACo supports home rule and local control. He introduced Judge/Executive Larry Whitaker, President of KACo, to discuss their issues for the 2002 Regular Session.
Judge/Executive Whitaker stated that KACo’s issues included city/county tax conflicts, solid waste, and Smart Growth. He said their group would be supporting the findings of the LRC Advisory Committee on City and County Relations.
Senator Robinson next recognized Commissioner Jody Lassiter with the Department for Local Government (DLG). He told the committee that DLG also supports the legislation that was approved by the Advisory Committee on City and County Relations, which aims at eliminating conflicts between cities and counties over the insurance premium tax and occupational license fees. He then introduced Mr. Steve Gregory, General Counsel for DLG. Mr. Gregory stated that DLG had three areas of concerns: (1) refining and making flexible the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the Kentucky Renaissance programs; (2) making more available the training council within DLG’s local resources division; and (3) better financial reporting by cities and counties.
Senator Robinson next recognized Mr. David Martin, Executive Director of the Kentucky County Judge/Executives Association (KCJEA). Mr. Martin introduced Judge/Executive Sandy Watkins, President of KCJEA to discuss their issues for the 2002 Regular Session. Judge/Executive Watkins stated that KCJEA was opposed to any weakening or elimination of sovereign immunity. He said KCJEA was also in support of increased funding for jails.
Judge/Executive Watkins then referred to Logan County Judge/Executive Tommy Turner for further issues. Judge/Executive Turner told the committee that the incarceration of juveniles, ability to provide compensatory time for public employees, and continuing the annual $20 increase to counties from court costs were concerns of KCJEA.
Judge/Executive Watkins recognized Meade County Judge/Executive Mark Brown to discuss other issues. Judge/Executive Brown stated that terroristic threats against local officials should be classified as a felony. He also said that there should be a three-day response allowed for open records requests.
Judge/Executive Watkins recognized Pulaski County Judge/Executive Darrell Beshears to discuss the last issues of KCJEA. Judge/Executive Beshears stated that dead animal removal was an issue and KCJEA is working with the Agriculture Department to solve it. He said another issue is that the fiscal court can be legally liable for the actions of the jailer.
Lastly, Senator Robinson recognized Mr. Jack Couch, Executive Director of the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts (KCADD). He introduced Mr. John Bruner, Executive Director of the Cumberland Valley Area Development District, Mr. Jack Scriber, Executive Director of KIPDA, and Mr. Wendell Lawrence, Executive Director of the Lincoln Trail and Chairman of the Kentucky Association of Area Development District Directors. Mr. Lawrence told the committee that KCADD’s issues for the upcoming session were: 1) to strengthen public administration services at the ADD’s; 2) continued assistance for local planning at a regional level; and 3) provision and improvement of aging programs.
Senator Robinson then congratulated Mr. Bruner on his selection as president of the National Association of Regional Councils. He also congratulated and recognized Mr. Scriber as secretary/treasurer of the same organization.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 12:45 p.m.