Henderson County Fiscal Court at its Sept. 12 meeting heard two pitches—one from the city of Henderson and another from Henderson Municipal Power and Light—asking it to chip in on a project each agency is pursuing.
Combined, the requests total more than $4.4 million. No decisions were made. A work sessionto discuss both requests has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Henderson County Fiscal Courtroom.
“It’s serious dollars we’re talking about,” said Judge-Executive Brad Schneider at the Sept. 12 meeting.
In the first request, HMP&L asked the court for $3.177 to help fund a project that would bring its fiber network to residences in four different areas in the county. These include an area around Zion Road, an area around Riverport and Old Geneva roads, an area in the vicinity of Corydon and Smith Mills and an area in the vicinity of Cairo and Robards.
All the areas are currently in the service area of Kentucky Utilities but HMP&L officials said KU has no plans to provide fiber to them.
Brian Hardesty, the chief technology officer for HMP&L, said his utility continues to field requests to provide fiber in areas not currently serviced by HMP&L.
“A request is the nice way to put it,” he said, adding it’s more of “a yell.”
Though KU doesn’t currently provide fiber service to the areas, there are providers in the areas that do. In an answer to a question from Schneider, Hardesty said that the residences he surveyed in the area can obtain broadband from other providers, such as Spectrum.
Schneider also asked what HMP&L would do if the court didn’t grant the money.
HMP&L General Manager Brad Bickett responded that the utility would build a percentage of what’s planned in the area and expand on that as cashflow allows.
In a second ask of the court, the city of Henderson requested $1.25 million to fund the lighting at the athletic complex currently under construction.
Dylan Ward, project manager for the city, explained that the base budget for construction was $10.5 million. He said additional items, such as lighting, a press box, a playground and additional parking, were left out of the base bid as a cost savings measure. General contractors can inflate bids on base bids because of these pieces of a build they don’t specialize in, he said.
With those specialty items added in, the current cost total for the project is $18.5 million. Ward said city bonding for the project totals $15.5 million.
With plans to pursue naming rights and grants, the city believes it can raise all but $1.25 million to complete the project, said Henderson Mayor Brad Staton, who was presenting with Ward.
Magistrate Tim Southard expressed concern that the county wouldn’t make a dime back from the investment because the complex will be operated by the city.
Staton replied that the city doesn’t expect the complex to be a money maker, saying most likely it will break even and the funding is an investment in the youth athletes around town and county who will use it.
Schneider said both requests, as he understood, were grants, not loans. He said that’s negotiable and will be discussed at the Wednesday work session.
In other news at the Sept. 12 meeting,
- The court heard a request from Sheriff Chip Stauffer to provide an incentive program for deputies as a part of their compensation package. Stauffer said a deputy on staff has been given a conditional offer at a different law enforcement agency and it would take 14 months to replace him. Without some incentive program, Stauffer fears that other deputies could leave to take jobs from other departments in western Kentucky and southern Indiana that are offering higher wages, which is happening now as departments everywhere look to find ways to fill staffing levels.
- The court recognized Holy Name School eight-grader Deacon Kitchens as the Judge’s Scholar for September. The court proclaimed Sept. 12 as Deacon Kitchens Day in Henderson County.