WEST LIBERTY, Ky. (WYMT) - More than six months after a tornado nearly wiped out West Liberty, officials said part of the rebuilding process has become more difficult.
The new Morgan County courthouse was 60 percent complete when the tornado hit and dealing with funding issues for a partially completed project is something officials said has created problems.
Morgan County Judge Executive Tim Conley said he wanted to get a move on with the courthouse project.
“At the point at six months, it's time get on with rebuilding Morgan County,” said Conley.
Kentucky Association of Counties, KACo., officials said they negotiated a figure with their insurance carrier based on the policy, but county officials said it will not cover the full estimate by the construction company.
Conley said he appreciated how much KACo. had done thus far, but the county still fell short of what.
“We are close to a million dollars more than where they started their negotiations, and we are little more than a million dollars less than where i would like for us to be at,” said Conley.
Tim Sturgill of KACo. said they agreed to pay $8.2 million in addition to the roughly $150,000 to $200,000 they had already paid in debris removal from the site. Sturgill and Conley said the estimate given to them from Codell Construction was $9.7 million.
That is a gap that Administrative Office of the Courts Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee members said they have been asked to fill with bonds.
“So that is going to be paid out over probably twenty years at I think $118,000 a year out of the contingency fund,” said Rep. Jim Wayne (D) of Louisville.
“That leaves the contingency fund with only about half that same amount of money left for all the courthouse projects that are remaining.”
Wayne said he and others felt it should have been paid for, in full, by the insurance from KACo.
“The county government is going to get bailed out by the contingency fund and the people that are going to have to pay for this are the taxpayers,” said Wayne.
Wayne said he understood Conley was under a lot of demand and stress after experiencing a disaster and believed he did do the best he could under the circumstances to come up to a figure during negotiations.
While some said the tax payers could end up with the remainder of the bill over time, Conley said the contingency fund is set up for things like disaster. He said he believed going into negotiations with the insurance companies could cost time and money that they don't have.
“If this had went to some type of court negotiations, and it sat for 4, 5, 6, years, who knows how long 'til you would see it?” said Conley.
“This money was sitting there not being used and it was waiting for a need and it just happened that Morgan County had the need this time.”
Conley said the courthouse should be completed within 24 months, if all goes according to plan.
Conley said the county is paying Morehead State University $100,000 in rent per year to house people from the Administrative Office of the Courts. He said he was thankful they were able to do that in the building, but the quicker the new courthouse comes back, the less money they would spend on rent.