Tuesday, the Lincoln County Fiscal Court heard a lengthy complaint by Maywoods area farmer Jimmy Bailey who sought to encourage the magistrates to reconsider their decision to not create further ordinances regulating livestock roaming at large around the county.
Bailey, concerned that a neighbor’s cattle were repeatedly entering his hay field through a failing fence, sought to convince the magistrates to put teeth in an ordinance that would make the livestock owner responsible for controlling his cattle. Lincoln County Attorney Daryl Day told Bailey that state ordinance actually compel adjoining property owners engaged in agriculture to evenly split the cost of fencing property.
Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 256.042 that says that if a property owner is engaged in any kind of agriculture, be it livestock or corn, both parties were responsible for sharing the cost of building and maintaining a “legal fence.” Day’s recitation was a surprise to the farmers in the room that held with the conventional wisdom that only farmers running livestock had to maintain a fence.
Day said that the KRS was “a surprisingly detailed ordinance considering how old it was.” The KRS defines exactly what a fence is, giving dimensions and materials, and explains in detail how it is to be constructed.
“Basically, you find the center point, you stand on one side and your neighbor stands on the other and each of you is responsible for maintaining the fence to your right,” Day paraphrased.
Bailey was adamant that another KRS that makes cattle owners responsible for containing their livestock had precedence, but Day said that he’d tried cases on the subject many times and the judge always relied on the statute regarding fencing.
Bailey said, “I’ll ask for a jury of my peers.” And Day responded that the only way that would do any good was if Bailey could prove that being required to fence his hay field would be an “unconscionable burden.”
Bailey was advised that he should refer his complaint to the Commonwealth Attorney General, but was told there wasn’t much hope for success. “We can’t pass an ordinance that says, ‘We disagree with a state statute,’” Day said.
In other business, the court heard from PVA David Gambrel who gave the magistrates a quick primer on setting tax rates. Gambrel said he wanted to give the class because, “We have new magistrates, new city clerks, a new school superintendent and a new librarian,” all of whom are involved in preparing budgets and helping taxing bodies set their rates.
Gambrel gave the court a quick description of where the county’s funds come from and where they go. He also warned the magistrates that there are some rumblings about doing away with Kentucky’s tax exemptions for agricultural property saying that if that happened it could cost Lincoln County farmers an additional $2.5 million dollars a year in taxes which they can ill afford. “I don’t see how Lincoln County farmers could survive a $2.5 million tax increase,” Gambrel said.
The Fiscal Court took some personnel action as well, appointing Teresa Padgett to another four year term as County Treasurer.
After a lengthy closed session, the court emerged to announce that they had approved an increase to the Sheriff’s Office budget limits, raising the salary cap from $388,000 to $400,000 which would allow Sheriff Curt Folger to hire another deputy.
Magistrates also approved a two percent raise for county employees. The judge said that several retirements that left positions unfilled, successful grant applications and the success of the recycling program had left a little room in the budget for salary increases.
The court created a five member Parks Board to replace the previous 11 member board that had become unwieldy when a quorum could not be reached.
After some research they had determined that KRS actually calls for a five member board. Farris Marcum, Mac Dunn, Rodney Munford, Dennis Maitlin and Mark Robbins will serve as board members.
The court also reappointed long-serving Fire Board member Barbara Payne to serve on that body again.