Calvert City Council members struggled nearly an hour in its virtual meeting May 10 with language changes in an ordinance amendment. The amendment essentially establishes the water/sewer system (Board of Public Utilities) as a department of city government.
The need to revise the ordinance making it congruent with actual operations arose earlier this year. The amendment restructures language pertaining to how the water/sewer board operates. The changes are necessary to bring the ordinance into compliance with state law, Kentucky Revised Statute 83A.130. The amendment reflect the powers and duties of the mayor and city council in day-to-day management of all departments.
The amendment adopted on second reading with changes made during the meeting, revises an ordinance passed in the 1960s. Language in the old ordinance made the utilities board a free-standing unit with hiring/firing powers and a separate budget. However, the city council never adhered to the hiring/firing aspect. Historically the mayor has hired/fired water and sewer plant employees. The amendment establishes daily management, hiring/firing under supervision of the mayor’s office. The full ordinance may be viewed at city hall during regular business hours.
During the discussion, City Attorney Greg Northcutt read a summary of the amendment and explained that the document keeps the board membership at five rather than three that was proposed and allows up to two board members to be water customers but not necessarily residents of the city. The council agreed to change the language allowing one board member to be a non-city resident, but not two.
Councilwoman Neeta Hale said she didn’t recall the council having discussed that provision of allowing non-city residents to serve on the board.
“We did not discuss that,” Northcutt said, adding that was something Mayor Gene Colburn wanted the council to consider. Acting water/sewer Superintendent Silas Traylor estimated up to 25% of the city’s 1,600 customers live outside the city limits. “The only things that were changes that were discussed at the last meeting were to leave the board members at five and … leave the monthly meetings … with a requirement that they have at least four a year,” Northcutt said.
The problem wasn’t understood, Hale said. “The council was addressing … the fact that we want regular meetings. There are issues that come up that might make it necessary to have a special called meeting, but a special called meeting does not need to be a substitute for a regular meeting. We talked about having regular meetings, and then the next regular meeting was cancelled.”
Hale said the mayor told her he recommended having the called meeting this month. “The problem that I have is the board did not meet in January, February and in March they had a meeting in April. I’m not sure if that was a regular meeting, now in May they don’t have a regular meeting, they have a special meeting. … It is being circulated that the board members don’t have anything to discuss, and at the same time … we’re being told that they’ve done nothing on the new water plant.”
Moving the water plant out of the flood plain on Ky. 282 and building a new $10 million plant at a different site, has been a priority for more than a year. The board “can’t very well do anything, if they haven’t had these meetings,” Hale said. “And I think the thing the council was wanting was that you have a regular monthly meeting. … We were just giving that four meetings a year as a leeway, not as a goal.”
During a special called meeting the only issues that may be discussed are those listed on the agenda. Last minute issues that arise may be discussed in regular meetings.
Colburn accepted blame for not having regular water board meetings. “We didn’t have the ordinance thing straightened out,” he said. We are going to have a five-member board and we need to get going with this change. We didn’t have the budget conversation ready.” The mayor told board Chairman Dan Sills to have a special budget meeting this month.
Upon his election, Colburn was required to assume leadership over myriad overwhelming issues in the wake of former Mayor Lynn Jones’ death January 30.
On another issue, the council heard a lengthy presentation from John Ruzic of Retail Strategies, with whom Marketing Director Blair Travis is coordinating activities to attract national retail businesses to locate here. Ruzic outlined a variety of businesses he is actively recruiting including fast food businesses, and he is assessing appropriate and available sites.
Ruzic spent Monday visiting areas throughout the city and assessing existing businesses, and seeking ideas on which national business might best fit here.
He reviewed the four goals the city had when it hired him eight months ago — increase tax revenues, attract new businesses, improve the quality of life in the city and create jobs. He cited such businesses as quick service restaurants and small free-standing retail outlets. “We usually find that those have $1 million annual sales revenue and they usually provide about 15 jobs,” he said.
In other business the council:
• On the recommendation of Fire Chief Tim Davis, voted to donate the city’s 1992 Ford fire truck No. 7 to the Marshall County Rescue Squad. With a new truck the city recently purchased, it no longer needs No. 7, and the Rescue Squad needs it to haul its water rescue equipment.
• Heard a report from aviation consultant Tim Haskell that two T-hangars at Kentucky Dam Airport will be finished in about 10 days. Remaining work includes landscaping.
Haskell said he has submitted grant applications to the Federal Aviation Administration for funding of future projects. He expressed confidence the projects will be approved but the funding is lacking right now. “You will $150,000 this year and next,” he said. He also mentioned significant discussions ongoing in Congress regarding the next stimulus package. And the state Department of Aviation has committed to fund a perimeter fence in the next fiscal year, he said.
City Administrator John Ward said the airport has been selling fuel from its newly installed fuel system for the last two months.
• Set the rates for the new T-hangars as recommended by the airport board at $200 per month for the small units, $230 for the mid-size and $275 for large units.
• Set rates for internment crypts in the mausoleum in Calvert City Cemetery as recommended by the board at $3,000 for a single and $5,500 for a double.
• Heard from Travis that she is coordinating with Sesquicentennial Committee members articles and a history of the city to promote the 150th anniversary of its founding. She also reported that Jim Freeland of Freeland Broadcasting will do the narration of a documentary that includes interviews with more than four dozen Calvert City citizens.
Travis also reported Friday visits of the food trucks has been welcomed enthusiastically and a citywide yard sale is scheduled for June 3-5. Travis needs photos of Lee Cox, Dr. Carroll Traylor, Dr. Richard Cocke, the Norman Milling Company, the clinic in the 1970s, Oak Hill in its early days. She requested anyone who has one or more of these photos to bring them by her office in the Civic Center. “I’ll scan them and hand them right back,” she said. The photos are needed to illustrate publications promoting the Sesquicentennial celebration.