Do you remember what the hot topic in Hopkins County was before the coronavirus showed up?
That item, a new sports complex at Mid Town Commons, is being affected by COVID-19 like almost everything else. That was reflected in a budget approved Tuesday by Hopkins County Fiscal Court.
The magistrates voted 6-1 on first reading for a combined $31,265,168 budget for fiscal 2020-21, divided into six main areas. It includes what Budget Committee Chair Hannah Myers called a “minimal” $505,000 for possible dirt work on the sports complex.
“The line item is still open,” Myers said during a video conference meeting. “It’s just in there as a number,” but could be rolled over.
Myers added that borrowing money for work at Mid Town Commons is “off the table right now.”
Judge-Executive Jack whitfield Jr. didn’t even seem sure about when an interlocal agreement with the city of Madisonville will become final.
“COVID-19 has moved all the timelines back, on just about everything dealing with this,” Whitfield said.
He and Madisonville Mayor Kevin Cotton had discussed breaking ground for the building this summer. But any amount for the sports complex is still too high for Magistrate Billy Parrish. He cast the lone no vote.
“It’s the same reason that I’ve had all the way through,” Parrish said later from his Nebo business. “We have no idea what our revenue stream will be. At this present time, I can’t commit to it.”
The Fiscal Court committed in February to the purchase of land for the sports complex. That amount is part of the current budget, which expires Tuesday, June 30.
The fiscal 2020-21 county budget provides a strong look of what the coronavirus could do to local governments. Myers said the total is about $1 million below the current budget.
“Our occupational tax and our net profits tax... we’re not going to get the revenue for that. We’ve taken that down,” Myers said.
On top of that, Myers added, coal severance money is down about 7%.
“Right now, the mines are not running at full capacity,” Whitfield said. “Those are projections from the state as well.”
There was also a shutdown at Warrior Coal for several weeks in April.
The county budget allocates $5,473,681 for the road fund. Magistrate Charlie Beshears realized that could have been worse.
“There was a little bit of money taken out,” Beshears said. “But I figured it up, and it probably didn’t average more than one mile of blacktop.”
There’s also $5,849,284 for the jail fund. Jailer Mike Lewis went right to work on that figure, winning magistrate approval Tuesday to spend $61,360 on two new industrial washers and two new industrial dryers.
“There’s a five to seven-week lead time on getting these ordered and installed,” Lewis said. “These won’t be paid for until next fiscal year, anyway.”
Lewis added one washer is “completely down” at the moment. But the overall downward trend is something that will keep local leaders concerned.
“We’re going to have to be very, very, very careful that we don’t spend money that we don’t have,” Myers said.
“With the uncertainty, all capital projects are going to have to be looked at really closely,” Whitfield added. “We still don’t know what the true effect on our budget is going to be.”
As for the virus, the Hopkins County Health Department numbers remained unchanged Tuesday: 216 confirmed cases, 148 recovered patients and 27 deaths.
Only one new case has been confirmed locally in the last eight days. But Gov. Andy Beshear reported one during his late-afternoon briefing.
In other developments Tuesday related to COVID-19:
• Whitfield confirmed that because of the virus, the Fiscal Court meeting planned for Dawson Springs on Tuesday, June 2 will again be by video conference. He hopes a trip to Dawson Springs can occur later in the year.
• Hopkins County Sheriff Matt Sanderson reported property tax collections didn’t seem to be affected by the virus. They wound up at 98.13%, with about $546,000 missing.
• Beshears urged other magistrates to check on food banks in their districts. He’s concerned that demand might increase because “a lot of stimulus money has now dried up.”
• Atmos Energy announced it has received additional federal funds to help people pay natural gas bills. Details are available by calling 888-286-6700 weekdays between 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
• Mortons Gap announced its city park will reopen Friday, including the basketball court. Groups must be no larger than 10, using social distancing and sanitizing. Drive-through water/sewer payments resumed Monday.