City Council: Planning and Zoning, Little League, and Insurance
The Morgantown City Council took up a full agenda in Thursday night’s meeting, addressing the dispute between Gilbert Hack and the city, the conditions of the city park ballfields, city insurance, golf cart permitting, and sidewalk projects.
Planning and Zoning Board chairman Aubrey West addressed the Council and formally requested approval by the Council regarding the Board’s denial of a modular home permit to Gilbert Hack. The Planning and Zoning Board had voted to extend residential restrictions to the end of Chickasaw Drive to include Hack’s property which is in an industrial park. Council member Russell Givens stated that regulations require an agreement by all parties for this decision and asked Hack if he agreed to the decision. Hack said he did not agree. Givens then moved to reject the Planning and Zoning Board decision, and the Council voted down the Board’s decision. Mayor Linda Keown and Board chairman West agreed that the situation is “back to square one” and Givens said it is now up to Hack to propose in writing a new request to the Planning and Zoning Board according to process.
The Butler County Little League addressed the Council with their financial report to show their expenses related to their operation and to field upkeep. The organization spent $5,600 in the last year to maintain the city park ballfields even though it is city property. Members said they could be improving their own equipment if they were not spending money on field maintenance, but the BCLL could no longer afford the expenditures; they added that funding the city gives to BCLL right now would go to “fixing what you already own.” Keown said citizens are watching the city government for how much they give to organizations but advocated setting money aside to go to field maintenance. Givens praised the presentation of the financial report and moved to form a joint committee between the city and BCLL to address the problem. The motion carried, and the committee was formed.
David Hocker of Hocker Insurance reported that the city’s insurance policy would only increase by $431.06 for the coming year. Hocker addressed the option of additional coverage for the city’s police dog to cover death if the dog is off-duty; $7,000 of coverage would cost an additional $420. After discussion, the Council voted to renew the city’s insurance policy with the additional off-duty police dog coverage.
Michelle Hines and Alicia Johnson of BRADD’s Bowling Green office addressed the Council to request $1,700 from the city for programs for aging citizens. They said BRADD requests funding from local government bodies in its 10 county area and that they serve around 7 percent of Butler County’s age 60 and over population. Five percent of those who BRADD serves in its 10 county area live in Butler County. The Council approved the fund request.
Chief Billy Phelps reported that after the golf cart permitting group met, the consensus was to have no formal permitting of golf carts in the city. House added that state requirements would not allow permitted carts to cross US 231 in the city, and Phelps said they are “not legalizing golf carts in Morgantown” opting for a more informal "community friendly" approach to the carts.
House reported that the G. L. Smith Street sidewalk project is about 3-4 work days away from completing concrete work, weather permitting. The lights and handrails would be done afterward. Keown said that the city has been “using hometown people” where possible on the project. According to Mayor Keown the cost of the sidewalk project on Ohio Street was around $4,000 and the cost of the G.L. Smith sidewalk project should come in between $34,000 and $40,000.
Casey Turci, of the QP Media Group, addressed the Council to request $300 to post city notices for a year. Turci stated that the amount is the same as an agreement between the city and Beechtree News. Diane Dyer of Beechtree Media told the Council that there was an agreement for that amount last year but Beechtree News did not renew the agreement for the current year due to the "outrageous" amount the City is required to pay to post notices in the local print paper.
"We understand that the City is required by law to print legal notices in the paper, however, Beech Tree News is printing them at no charge to the city and will continue to do so for the benefit of our readers and the City," said Dyer.
Gary Southerland asked how paid notices with QP Media Group, would benefit the city. The Council decided that a proposal was needed from QP Media Group to demonstrate the benefit of such an agreement.
State Representative C. B. Embry addressed the Council on the state budget and state economy. Embry said that state revenues were down because state unemployment is at its highest rate in 27 years. Health care costs are rising because Kentuckians are sedentary and exercise less than other states’ citizens, and as a result Kentucky ranks in the top five in the occurrence of many diseases. Kentucky will have borrowed $1 billion by the end of the year from the federal government to fund unemployment compensation, and the entire budget for Kentucky is $9 billion. Embry said that the near future outlook for the economy is gloomy but believes “in the next two to three years we’ll come out of this.”
Story by Don Thomason, Beech Tree News
Photos by Diane Dyer, BTN