County officials have still not reached a final solution on disposing of dead livestock.
Mercer County, along with 17 other counties being served by Bluegrass Recycling of Winchester, was left scrambling for a solution when the recycling facility went out of business at the beginning of the month.
Last year, Bluegrass Recycling removed over 1,000 animals from Mercer County farms. While two other haulers are willing to take over the service, it would cost the county up to $50,000 more than it did last year, Judge-Executive Milward Dedman said. The county currently charges farmers $20 per carcass for removal.
One option county officials have pursued is composting. Dedman said representatives from the Kentucky Department of Water had given tentative approval for a site at the old quarry. He said Linda McClanahan, the agent for agriculture and natural resources at the Mercer County Cooperative Extension Office, is researching whether the county needs any further permits before they could begin the program.
Officials formerly believed the county was required to dispose of dead animals by state law, but Dedman said the law only spells out the proper handling of animal carcasses.
However, most counties have provided the service as a benefit to farmers and to public health.
“If the county doesn’t contribute, the farmers will allow the animals to remain and decay, leading to vulture and coyote problems,” Dedman said. “We’re just providing a service.”
Boyle County farmers were paying nothing for animal disposal, which was handled by the Boyle County Conservation District. However, after the closing of Bluegrass Recycling, the Boyle Fiscal Court voted to suspend the service until they could find another company, according to the Danville Advocate-Messenger.
Dedman said the county has received one call about an animal needing to be removed. He said the county is still looking for a way to resume the service.
“We’re trying to figure out a way to help the farmers and provide a service and not negatively impact the county budget,” the judge said. “We’re still trying to figure out the best option.”
In other business, the Mercer County Fiscal Court:
• Proclaimed Feb. 24-29 FFA Week.
• Approved a resolution to install new water mains and service lines on all or part of the county roads designated for improvements by the North Mercer Water Association. The utility will have to cut up part of Catlett Lane but will repair the road after work is completed.
• Appointed Shawn Markham to her second four-year term on the Mercer County Public Library’s board of trustees.
• Approved the annual preventative maintenance inspection agreement for the outdoor warning siren with Federal Field Services LLC. The annual cost will be $4,000.
• Approved a 2020 Illegal Open Dump Grant of $4,759 from the Division of Waste Management. To qualify for the grant, the county will provide 25-percent in kind services. The fiscal court also gave first reading to adjust the budget to account for the grant.
• Accepted a 2.3-percent cost of living increase for Judge Dedman, County Clerk Chris Horn and Sheriff Ernie Kelty. The magistrates also approved a 2.3-percent cost of living increase for other elected officials. The consumer price index is set by the state.
• Agreed to pay Boyle County Fiscal Court $47,250 for jail operations and the $3,000 monthly administrative fee for February.
Judge Dedman announced budget requests are due by Friday, March 13, at 4 p.m.
The next meeting of the Mercer County Fiscal Court will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Mercer County Fiscal Courthouse (207 West Lexington Street).
Editor’s note: in the fiscal court story that ran on Jan. 30, it was mistakenly reported that Bluegrass Recycling was located in Boyle County.