Jessamine County Judge-Executive Neal Cassity was the deciding vote in favor of releasing a line of credit held by the county to the developers of The Lakes at Equestrian Estates during the fiscal-court meeting Tuesday night.
Cassity’s deciding vote also made for a payment of nearly $22,000 to the Jessamine County/City of Wilmore Joint Planning Commission for fees the commission incurred through the project.
The magistrates were split three-to-three, with Terry Meckstroth, Tim Vaughn and Burch Hager voting yes, and George Dean, Gary Morgan and Bobby Day Wilson voting no.
Meckstroth had been assigned to visit the subdivision known as The Lakes at Equestrian Estates, which is the luxury-homes area north of the county on Brannon Road and report back to the fiscal court.
He said he was very pleased with the work the developers had done at their own personal cost and felt it was fair to release the line of credit.
Dean did not agree.
“I don’t think this shows that we’re being good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars,” Dean said before the vote.
Meckstroth put forth the motion to release $85,000 held by the county treasury from a letter of credit with additional payment of $21,994 for legal and engineering fees incurred by the joint planning commission.
The legal and engineering fees had already come out of the planning-commission’s budget, county attorney Brian Goettl said.
The fiscal court had two options Tuesday: either to take the $21,994 out of the $85,000 line of credit to give to the planning commission and give the developers the balance — approximately $63,000 — or release the line of credit, which had been allocated for the development since 2009, and refund the planning commission. The court chose the latter.
“What’s really at issue is the $21,000, plus the balance to planning and zoning and whether or not the county retains that money to recoup expenditures to save this development or unless we return it to the partners in the development who stepped up and finished the subdivision,” Goettl said. “In the discussion with planning and zoning, they felt had the (developers) not stepped in to complete it, the county would have spent far more than this $21,000. So it saved the county more than $21,000.”
Goettl said the developers’ efforts have given the county a completed subdivision with lots that will be sold to generate revenue that wouldn’t have happened had the developers not invested their own money and retained the line of credit.
Goettl also told the magistrates they had the option of having joint-planning-commission administrator Chris Woodall return to court for a more in-depth explanation and analysis, but they decided to move forward with the vote.
With a split vote by the fiscal court, Cassity ended up being the deciding factor and supported Meckstroth’s motion.
“I’ve followed this thing for a long time,” Cassity said, “and I think it’s the right thing to do.”
The joint planning commission voted 5-2 on Oct. 9 to recommend approval of the project to the fiscal court.
In other business, the fiscal-court meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 6, was moved to 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, due to the general election.