Madison County may be gaining a bio-tech employer in future, which may initially employ up to 70 people, officials said. At Tuesday’s meeting of the Madison County Fiscal Court, officials approved a resolution permitting the county to enter into the Kentucky Business Investment program through the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Department for Business Development.
Madison County Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor read the resolution, which identified Project Neuron as the prospective employer. The resolution further states that the company would be located within the county, but not within the city limits of any city.
The vote came after the Fiscal Court retired to a 30-minute executive session to discuss the matter, and when they resumed the regular business session, gave Taylor permission to enroll the county in the KBI program, in which Madison County would forego 2 percent of its occupational license fees for a period of seven years as an incentive to attract the business. Taylor said the bio-tech firm is considering Madison County for its corporate headquarters.
In other business, the court voted unanimously to engage Perfection Group for a $7 million energy efficiency contract to upgrade facilities throughout the county in an effort to save money. The contract will include repair and placement of various roofs, including that of the Madison County Detention Center, upgrades of electrical, heating and cooling services, as well as replacement of some 12,000 bulbs with energy efficient LED lights. Officials said the upgrades will result in a savings of approximately $8 million in energy costs over a 20-year period. The county will be paying the project off over 15 years, Taylor said.
Madison County Jailer Steve Tussey said the upgrades are long overdue, and that the Detention Center’s roof, for example, has been in need of
serious repair. Tussey mentioned that during Monday’s heavy rains, staff had over 20 buckets set up around the facility to capture water leaking from the roof.
“We’ve been putting band-aids on this for several years,” Tussey said of the facility’s problems. “This is a critical need for the detention center.” The court voted unanimously to approve the project.
In his first meeting as First District magistrate, Paul Reynolds asked if the county had been thorough in comparing the various cost proposals offered by the vendor. Reynolds raised the question because only one firm, Perfection Group, had submitted the bid for the entire project. Judge Taylor assured Reynolds various facets of the project had been bid out in the past, and that the county was getting a good deal.
“At the end of it, we’ve actually saved money. Over 20 years, you’re going to get a significant amount of savings,” Taylor said, adding later: “This is good for the Madison County taxpayers. It’s really a good way to spend tax dollars.”
In other business, the court approved an application for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant from the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal year 2021. Some $319 million in funds are available for fire department across the country, and the county intends to apply for a grant to cover the costs of cleaning and sanitizing equipment.
Meanwhile, the court unanimously approved a resolution to continue the Rocket Docket Project. Madison County Attorney Jennie Haymond asked for $50,000 to continue rocket docket programming, which limits the time some inmates have to spend in the detention center, thereby reducing costs to the county. The average Rocket Docket inmate spends 19 days in jail awaiting processing, compared to the average 180 days of inmates not in the program. Last year, the project saved the county nearly $1 million in incarceration costs, Haymond said.
Madison County Coroner Jimmy Cornelison gave a brief report, noting that there were 59 drug overdoses in 2020, compared to 52 during the previous year. Cornelison said there have already been eight overdoses in 2021, with three pending further test results.
Cornelison noted he sees an uptick in overdoses when government assistance checks are released.
“Where I see the difference is anytime we have a stimulus, it goes up,” Cornelison said. “That meant that people were getting a check, and then another check, and I see our numbers go up.”
In other business, Dustin Heiser of the Madison County Emergency Agency addressed the court, gaining approval for a $2.1 million contract to ASC Mass Notification Solutions to replace the outdoor warning system in Madison County. Under the contract, the county will go from having 90 notification sirens to 70, since fewer will be needed when the demilitarization project is completed at the Bluegrass Army Depot.
Additionally, Heiser noted he is working with the National Weather Service in order to make severe weather alerts more targeted in Madison County.
For example, if severe weather is projected for only Richmond and not other areas of the county, only alarms in Richmond would sound.
The next meeting of the Fiscal Court will be Feb. 9.