The Hopkins County Fiscal Court approved their first reading of a $53 million 2021-22 budget in a 6-1 vote with District Five Magistrate Billy Parrish voting against the measure.

Parrish expressed concern about the sports complex amount budgeted of $8,905,000 with $8,305,000 for recreation and culture, $400,000 in debt service and $200,000 in contingent appropriations.

“What happens if what I’ve been reading and hearing about the cost of materials is up 300% this year, what if that turns out to be $18 or $16 million?” he asked. “Is that all that is going to be appropriated to spend there?”

Hopkins County Judge-Executive Jack Whitfield Jr. said that the architect has been given a budget to work with and that plans may have to be modified in order to stay in the budget.

“It is going to end up being a balancing act between what we want and the money we have,” said Whitfield. “We have to bring what we want down to the money we have, if that is the case.”

Following the meeting, Whitfield said the increased cost in construction is a concern.

“I don’t know if anybody has an idea of when construction costs will come back down,” he said. “It has gone up significantly. Steel hasn’t so much as wood. The facility will not have a lot of wood in it so that helps a little bit. We will have to see what the architect comes back with and work between the county, City of Madisonville and the architect.”

As expected, Hopkins County will be witnessing a significant increase in its employer retirement contributions, according to Treasurer Tracy Browning.

Whitfield said the county will pay a total of $2.3 million in employee retirement costs, which is a 12% rate hike and equates to $250,000 more than a year prior..

Browning said there were no cuts that had to be made from what they were in the current fiscal year, adding that each fund will have money put in it to pay for the increase.

“We didn’t make any cuts from where they were last year,” she said. “Each department, each fund, will have money put in it to cover that increase.”

A closer look at the budget includes the following appropriations:

• General Fund — $11,140,940

• Road Fund — $6,183,060

• Jail Fund — $6,052,935

• LGEA Fund — $7,407,786

• COVID Relief Program Fund — $8,700,000,

• LGED Grant — $1,000,000

• Contingent Appropriations — $3,675,800

“I think we are in better shape than most of the counties around us,” said Whitfield. “Right now, I think retirement is going to be an ongoing concern because right now we suspect it is going to continue to go up. The state retirement plan is not in good shape, so they are putting the cost of the past on us today.”

Browning said there was a 12% increase in pensions in 2018 and 2019 but not in 2020 due to COVID.

A second reading is still needed to officially approve the budget, but the budget must first be reviewed by the Kentucky Department of Local Government, according to Whitfield.

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