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News Digest, Dec. 13, 2013

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By The Staff

Pipeline officials to take questions in Anderson
Those with questions about the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline can attend a special meeting Monday night at Lawrenceburg to get answers.

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It will be a special called session of Anderson County Fiscal Court, which will begin at 6 p.m. and include a 15-,minute presentation from pipeline officials, followed by questions from the audience. The session will be at the Anderson County Extension Office, in the county park just north of Lawrenceburg.

The pipeline has been a controversial subject across Kentucky counties through which it would pass, including the southeastern sliver of Shelby. Fiscal courts in all hose counties have voted not to allow the pipeline, although they have no authority to stop it.

Designed to carry the byproducts of fracking in Pennsylvania and West Virginia through Kentucky and on to the Gulf of Mexico, the project has sparked environmental concerns as well as a heated debate over the company’s stance that, if needed, it has the right of eminent domain.
State officials and some landowners disagree, sparking a lawsuit that was heard last week in Franklin Circuit Court.

Anderson Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway had said he would allow “10 or so” questions, but he said Monday that he will instead ask those interested in asking a question to write it down when they arrive.
“People will sign their names as they come through the door,” Conway said. “If they have a question, it will be written down and put in a box.”
Conway said his goal is to ensure that no duplicate questions are asked so the meeting can proceed smoothly. He added that the meeting is scheduled to run through 8 p.m. but would go longer if needed.
About 50 percent of the easements needed to bring the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline through Kentucky have been obtained, a pipeline official confirmed Monday.

 

Retirement audit finds problems
Lax oversight of financial reporting could pose significant problems for the Kentucky Retirement Systems, Auditor Adam Edelen said in a report released Wednesday.

The audit – mandatory once every five years as part of a pension reform bill passed in 2010 – uncovered 19 significant deficiencies in KRS’ internal controls, ranging from erroneous data used to prepare the agency’s financial statement to monitoring contracts.

In a news release, Edelen called the findings “concerning” and said he hoped KRS would heed the audit’s recommendations.

Auditors, who requested 12 contracts to review, found KRS had paid $171,197 to two medical examiners without contracts after the agreements expired in fiscal year 2012. KRS’ accounting department pays contract invoices but does not review the contracts to ensure they are appropriate, according to the release.
“It is inappropriate for a $15 billion agency to not monitor contracts,” Edelen said in the release. “Retirees, state employees and taxpayers need to have confidence that expenditures to outside vendors are proper.”
Many of the recommendations in the audit center on strengthening oversight of financial reporting and segregating job duties.
 

LRC to search for new leader

The National Conference of State Legislatures will conduct a search for the Legislative Research Commission’s next director and audit the agency’s operations, top lawmakers decided Wednesday. The 16-member Legislative Research Commission voted, 9-5, with one “pass,” on a $42,410 contract with NCSL. The organization will begin work in January and conclude by April 25, according to its submitted proposal.

 

Tax receipts rise slightly
State Budget Director Jane Driskell reported that general fund receipts grew 2.4 percent in November compared to last year. Total revenues for the month were $802.9 million, compared to $784.2 million during November 2012.

Receipts have now risen 2.4 percent for the first five months of the fiscal year, and would need to increase 1.5 percent over the final seven months of FY14 to achieve the official revenue estimate of $9,523.9 million.

Among the major accounts:

  • Corporation income tax receipts increased $8.2 million in November, primarily because of favorable balances on net returns. Receipts year-to-date have increased 40.1 percent, a reflection of favorable profitability and underlying corporate strength.
  • Individual income tax collections rose 6 percent, driven in large part to strength in withholding and net returns. Through the first five months of FY14, individual income tax collections have increased 3.3 percent.
  • Sales and use tax receipts decreased 1.0 percent in November but have grown 2.3 percent for the year.
  • Property tax collections rose 8.1 percent but are down 5.7 percent year-to-date.

SBDM council meetings

  • Wright Elementary’s Site-Based Decision-Making Council will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday and then on Jan. 14 for its regular monthly meeting in the media center.
  • Collins High School’s SBDM will meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday and on Jan. 15 for regular monthly meetings in the conference room.
  • Heritage SBDM will meet at 4 p.m. on Jan. 14 for its regular monthly meeting in the conference room.

Roadwork, closings:

  • Interstate 64:Lane closures and delays are possible from the Welcome Center to half-mile east of KY 55 (mile points 27.9 to 32.8) because of roadway widening. Lane closures are possible Sunday through Friday from 7 p.m. each evening until 5 the following morning and on Saturdays from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. Sundays. A 12-foot width restriction is in place for the eastbound lanes of I-64 in this work zone.
  • KY 1848:Shoulder closures and construction delays possible at the I-64 interchange (mile points 4.6 to 6.4) because of roadway widening. One lane of traffic will be maintained in each direction. The speed limit is reduced to 35 MPH in the work zone.

 

The Kentucky Press News Service contributed to this report.