Pope questions county bills

Nola Sizemore Staff Writer

September 19, 2013

Harlan County District 1 Magistrate Jonathan Pope questioned bills presented to members of the Harlan Fiscal Court at a meeting held on Thursday. Pope said the county needs to “tighten their belt on unnecessary bills,” citing the decrease in coal severance funds the county is experiencing.

“Are we going to pull the Port-O-Johns from these parks for the winter months,” asked Pope. “We’ve got a bill here for $2,380 for one month. This is an unnecessary expense. We’ve had months it’s been even higher than that.”

Pope said, “We’re going to have to just cut this expense off — this is waste. You’ve not purchased anything — it’s a Port-O-John, and we just can’t afford Port-O-Johns at walking tracks. That’s a luxury we’re going to have to cut. Times are tough and they’re going to get tougher in order to keep our county running efficiently.”

Harlan County Treasurer Ryan Creech responded, saying his office usually calls the agency providing the Port-O-Johns in October asking they be removed.

“I think we need to go ahead and do that, because that is a lot of money being spent on this right now,” said Pope. “Also, there’s a lot of fuel being purchased outside the county garage and the detention center, which are our two designated areas for fuel. We buy fuel at a non-taxed rate for the county and we have it available at the jail and the county garage for county vehicles. That should be the only place fuel is gotten, but I’m seeing where fuel is being bought at lots of other places in the county.”

Pope said he knows there are times when county employees are in the Tri-City area and fuel must be purchased at local gas stations because the county doesn’t have a designated fueling area there.

“Some of these places listed in the bills that county employees are buying gas are right down the road from the jail and the county garage,” said Pope. “We need to get this stopped. Instead of using local gas stations for county vehicles they can go to the county garage, but looks like they are just going down the street ½ a mile and buying fuel. We’ve got to quit that. “

Pope said there was over $2,000 worth of fuel purchased at one gas station and $500 at another.

Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop said fire departments have to purchase fuel where it is accessible to them in the event of an emergency.

Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, nsizemore@civitasmedia.com