Salaries for employees has been a hot issue at recent fiscal court meetings and the topic reared its head again on Thursday during their regular monthly meeting.

Magistrates have been questioning why the city of Manchester hasn’t been paying their share of the cost on grant writer Pam Mathis.

The city, county and board of education agreed to a three-way split of a salary for a grant writer.  The county and board paid their portion in full, but the city owes the county $26,721.00, according to county judge-executive Johnny Johnson.

“They’ve (the city) had some financial issues as we all know, but the mayor (James Ed Garrison) has assured me we would be getting our money.”

Magistrate Hugh “Bulldog” Lunsford raised the question of the county having a full-time grant writer solely doing their work.

“There’s a lot of grants out there,” he said.  “Why not have a full-time grant writer for the county?”

State Representative Derek Lewis was in attendance at the meeting and spoke about grant applications coming from Clay County.

“I see more support letters for grant applications coming from Clay County than any of the other counties I serve,” said Lewis who has Leslie and part of Laurel in his district.  “It’s easily 3 to 1 in favor of Clay on the number of letters I see.”

Judge Johnson said sharing the expense of one grant writer was more economical than having all three entities try to employ their own.

“We are all in this together,” Johnson said.  “For us to go forward all three, the county, the city and the board of education, has to thrive.”

Magistrate Russell “Rabbit” Smith questioned another employee on the county payroll, former sixth district magistrate Alan Robinson.

The fiscal court is paying Robinson for 30 hours a week, which includes health and retirement benefits.  Smith questioned how he can perform those duties while working a full-time job for someone else.

“He (Robinson) should be here at every meeting and show us proof of what he’s doing,” Smith said.  “I don’t see how he’s working 40 hours a week on another job and 30 hours somewhere else.  I’m just trying to be fair, if I can’t be fair, I’ll resign my post.”

Johnson said he had no doubt Robinson was working the 30 hours a week he’s required and would speak to him about attending the next meeting.

Magistrate Smith also brought up the discussion of hiring a tourism director.

“Tourism is the key to our future,” he said.  “We’ve talked about his for a long time, it’s time we do something about it and help make this county grow.”

The court has been in discussion with the tourism committee about sharing an expense to hire a director.

County attorney Joe White says an inner-agency agreement would be needed to complete the process and would research it further to see how the court can legally proceed.  The court voted to table the issue while White performed his research.

In other news from the meeting, Clay County Historical Society President Mike White spoke to the court about their museum that would be opening in December.  He told the court about the volume of visitors the society already receives and how he feels it will expand even further once the museum is open.

The court unanimously agreed to give the society $1,000 towards the museum and several magistrates elected to make private donations also.

The court also further discussed the Trail Town Resolution to help draw tourism to the county for ATV riding.

Brooke Bryant spoke representing an ATV club that is working to designate trails throughout the county for use.

The club is working with private landowners to have trails with trailheads for camping in the near future.

State Representative Lewis spoke to the court about a new Kentucky Mountain Regional Recreation Authority that is being created to help clubs like Bryant represents to create these trails and camping areas.

“This will be a 35-county partnership,” Lewis told the court.  “This initiative is receiving tremendous support, and this is going to create recreation opportunities for Clay and the surrounding counties.”

The court agreed that ATV trails will draw in much-needed tourism dollars to the county and said they would support the initiative fully by creating an ordinance to allow ATV’s to travel short periods on county roadways to connect to trails.

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