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IHC: Approves Purchase of Land; City Council: Motel Tax, Ballfields, Planning & Zoning

The Morgantown City Council met Thursday night and addressed a motel tax ordinance, safety issues at the city park ballfields, and a vacancy on the Planning and Zoning Board.
Mayor Linda Keown told the Council that the Morgantown – Butler County Tourism Commission is undergoing a redesign.  The Tourism Commission is a joint city-county agency.  Keown read a draft ordinance to impose a 3% transient room tax.  The Council decided to make this the first reading of the ordinance.  Council member Terrell House stated that it hasn’t been clear what the revenue currently collected from motels could legally be spent on.  Council member Rick Scott added that Morgantown and Butler County lacks advertising to promote tourism and this ordinance could provide such funding.  The first reading of the ordinance was approved.
Ritchie West of the Butler County Little League addressed the Council regarding safety issues at the city park ballfields.  Council member Russell Givens told West that he and Greg Drake took soil probes of the fields, and they found two inches below the surface what Givens called “murky blue clay” that would not allow water to reach the tiles that the Butler County Little League had installed.  Givens said that the soil needs to be dug out and replaced and that he believed the city has the equipment to do so.  West listed the safety issues the Butler County Little League had previously brought before the Council, including standing water, fence repair, and dugout conditions; he said “time is of the essence” for addressing the problems because Little League practice could start as early as March.  There was agreement with West among Council members, but Givens stated that weather would dictate how soon work could start.
Mayor Keown told the Council that Tyler Peay’s term on the Planning and Zoning Board is up.  She recommended Patty Craig to replace Peay on the Board, and the Council approved Craig to the position.
House spoke about a proposal to procure a big screen TV to put in City Hall to post city events and information, much like what the County Clerk office has.  After discussion about where the TV could be placed in City Hall, the Council tabled the idea to get more information.
Mayor Keown said that 2011 was a very productive year, adding that for a new mayor and new Council “we have progressed very well.”  Council member Gary Southerland called on the news media to recognize the work done this year by the Utilities Department on improving the sewage system in the Sunset Loop area.  Givens said the new community building, Casco expansion, and the ditch cleanup near the old Pamida location were also highlights of the city’s progress.

In other business, Scott told the Council that the city is in need of an updated city map and that he is working on this.  House said the street lights on the sidewalk project have been ordered.  Keown stated that the pool house at the city pool is in bad shape and that the pool house is currently being painted.

Prior to the City Council meeting, the Industrial Holding Corporation held a brief meeting.  Chairman Terrell House called the meeting into closed session, and upon returning to open session the IHC agreed to buy 21 acres from Osco Bratcher jointly with county government on a unanimous roll call vote.  Linda Keown said the land is level and ready for industry and would "help tie in the whole industrial area."


Story by Don Thomason, Beech Tree News



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