The Floyd County Fiscal Court agreed to work on private property this week to spur economic development.
During a special meeting on Aug. 22, the fiscal court authorized Judge-Executive Robbie Williams to sign all documents related to the construction of “Webb Metal fabrication” near the former Allen Central High School on Ky. 80.
The resolution notes that a drain tile next to the highway needs to be replaced, and the work will allow the construction of the new business, which is expected to create up to 25 new jobs.
In an agreement approved by the fiscal court, the county agrees to install a drain tile across a creek on property owned by Earl Steve Webb, the Langley-based Webb and Sons Enterprises LLC and South East Welding.
“What he’s going to do is construct a metal fabrication facility,” Williams said. “We have an old drain that runs across the property. He’s agreed to create 25 new jobs over the next three years. It’s going to be aluminum manufacturing.”
He reported the company plans to construct trailers at the facility.
Magistrate Ronnie Akers voiced concerns about the fiscal court approving work on private property, referencing the recent indictment of an Eastern Kentucky county judge.
“But what I’m saying is that’s private property,” Akers said. “We’re not allowed to work on private property.”
He said he supports the creation of new jobs, but he just didn’t want the fiscal court to face issues for working on private property.
“I’m all for the jobs, and I wouldn’t have a problem with it. I just don’t want nobody to get in trouble,” Akers said. “You’ve got a judge over in Breathitt County that’s indicted for $700 on bridge boards, and I just don’t want to see anybody get in trouble.”
Williams reported after the meeting that the county installed the drain tile and has been maintaining it on this property.
“The drain that goes through it, the county’s maintained it. We put the drain in. We’ve maintained it because it’s the creek through there,” Williams said. “But the drain is collapsing, and that’s where he’s wanting to build the property.”
County Attorney Keith Bartley noted that the work will promote economic development and that Williams spoke to the Kentucky Department for Local Government about this project.
“If it’s legal, I’m all for it,” Akers said.
The vote to approve the resolution was unanimous.
The agreement requires a pro-rated reimbursement, officials explained, based on the number of jobs that Webb creates with the new business.
“The way I prepared the agreement would essentially require them to reimburse the county their cost if they don’t create those jobs, in proportion to the number of jobs,” Bartley said.
The agreement notes that if the company creates 25 new jobs by Aug. 1, 2022, then no reimbursement to the county is required, but if the company creates 15 jobs, then the company would be required to pay about 40 percent of the county’s cost to fix the drain tile.
Officials estimate the cost of the work to be about $10,000, and the agreement also notes that “the exact amount is unknown at this time.” It requires the fiscal court to document “each and every expense incurred” during the installation of the drain tile and to provide a copy of the final invoice for all work conducted “so the final number shall be known by all parties.”
Webb, who did not return a call seeking comment, has worked in the coal mining industry for years and is opening this new business because of the downturn in the coal economy, Williams said after the meeting.
“All he’s going to do is he’s just going to build a small shop there,” Williams said. “We may attempt to help him to get some equipment through the Department of Local Government in the future, but for starting out, I think he’s going to be okay.”
He said the county was able to help because of the size of the new business.
“The way I look at it, I certainly feel the big issue that we run into, the issue we run into in Eastern Kentucky, is everyone’s going after these plants with 200 and 300 jobs and they just keep falling through,” Williams said. “And the reason being we just don’t have the infrastructure or the manpower to handle that kind of a company. This is more of what we can maintain. It’s more of within what we can do in the county.”
He said millions in incentives were given in Perry County for the Dacor Aluminum plant that’s planned to open there.
“We do, you know, 25-25-25, I mean, it’s $10,000,” Williams said. “Perry County had to give $4.3 million in incentives to get 230 jobs … at Dacor that’s locating up there.”