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Columbia City Council May 2, 2005: Sewer/garbage woes dominate meeting

The Columbia City Council was given good news and bad news by John R. Taylor, CPA, of the Louisville accounting firm of Henderson, Jessee, and Co., at its regular meeting, Monday night, May 2, 2005, starting at 6:00 p.m.

Mayor Patrick Bell presided. The Mayor is still recovering from a hospitalization in April.

Among those present at the meeting were all Council Members, Larry Marshall, Joe Moore, Charles Grimsley, Craig Dean, Edwin Taylor, and June Parsons, as well as City Attorney Marshall Loy, City Clerk Carolyn Edwards, City Police Chief Mark Harris, and City Utilities Director Jim WIlliams and Commissioner David Wells and members of the media.

Mr. Taylor said that the accounts on the govermental activities side of the ledger look good, and cited an increase in the overall city financial position, which appears to be having a $230,000 a year improvement.

On the other hand, in the city's "business-like" operations, there are serious problems. Mr. Taylor noted that the Sanitation Department continues to lose money and has to be subsidized by the City, and that the City Utilities Commission is now operating in the red for the third straight year, with the current year seeming to be headed toward a complete wipe-out of the systems surplus funds.

City Utilities Commissioner Jim Williams said that the deficits are largely caused by unfunded mandates from the Federal Goverment and dramatic increases in costs of insurance and supplies. Williams said that the department will be helped by the rate revisions being implemented, but that it will take more than that to turn the department around.

He said that new capacitors in the utilities facilities will level electrical spikes and flattened daily power usages and save money. He also cited some billing problems on the north side of Russell Creek because the area is served by the Adair County Water District for water and by the Columbia Utilities Commission for sewer and gas, and that makes collections harder. Professional fees are another factor, he said.

Both Williams and John R. Taylor noted that State and Federal grants, as a part of local utilities financing, are fading as major factors.

Mr. Taylor praises record keeping

The accountant praised the City Clerk's Office. "The Records are so nice. My hat's off to Carolyn (City Clerk Carolyn Edwards)."

He did press Mrs. Edwards about bringing the Sanitation department into line, and was told by Mrs. Edwards that her office is now enforcing rules better. "We're noting a big difference," she said. Her office generates monthly operating statements for the Sanitation Department and they are current.

Two more Planning and Zoning changes are underway.

The changes receiving readings are for the following properties:
  1. 619 Tutt Street, owned by Chris Wilson. The property is being changed from R-2 Residential to C-2 Commercial. The house and lot involved are located on the north side of Tutt Street, just of Jamestown, and is remembered as the Roscoe Antle home. It was built in the 1950's by Ed Williams of Shamrock Stone.

  2. 207 Church Street, owned by Columbia builder and developer Terry Harvey. The property is being changed from R-1 low density residential to R-2 low-medium density property.

These actions were approved unanimously.

A First Reading was given to Ordinance No. 610.52, which revises rates for the Columbia Utilities Commission on water, sewer, and gas in the City of Columbia, KY.

Ordinance No. 230.43, the new salary plan for Fiscal Year 2005-2006 was introduced for a first reading. No vote was needed on this action.

Ordinance No. 460.2, to provide incentives for being annexed into the city was introduced. The ordinance will allow undeveloped land to become part of the City without having to pay city taxes for five years or until the land is developed. It is entitled an economic development assistance ordinance.

Mayor Bell commended Carolyn Edwards for her leadership in the Spring Clean Up drive. "I bugged out," the Mayor said, alluding to his recent hospitalization, "but Carolyn directed the drive and did a great job." Trash was picked up on 60 streets, utilizing 113 volunteers, and 104 bags of garbage were taken off the streets and adjoining areas. Mrs. Edwards commended Rhonda Loy, and Sonya Roy of her office for their leadership. Mayor Bell has proclaimed this week, May 1 through May 7, 2005, as Municipal Clerks Week in Columbia. Mayor Bell also announced that he and members of his administration will be choosing streets to receive new blacktop and other repairs in the coming month.

Individual council members also addressed issues of special concern to them, as follows:
  • Larry Marshall restricted his remarks to the efforts of the Utilities Board to get the Columbia Utilities Commission on more solid financial footing. "The Utilities Commission is working hard on the problem," he said.

  • Charles Grimsley asked that Marshall Street needs work and that a sign needs to be erected in the Cemetery to warn lost motorists that they can't exit on the now chained Campbellsville Street entrance. "Some people are going down the hill and then having to back up", he said.

  • Craig Dean asked about progress on restocking the City lake and the need to prohibit parking on both sides of High Street. Chief of Police Mark Harris said that there is an ordinance to prohibit the parking and that the city will be enforcing it.

  • June Parson asked about making the parking spaces in front of Mitzi's location on Greensburg into official parking spaces, but was told that the state highway department approval would be needed.

  • Taciturn Joe Moore, the calmest of the council for the evening, said, "I don't have anything," in the Council Members Have the Floor for Personal Priority Issues Segment of the meeting.

  • Edwin Taylor spoke to concerns of Jim Hayes and Raymond Loy about drainage problems. "And Nelson Branham continues to have problems with water run-off," he said.

Three members reappointed to Planning and Zoning Commission:

Mayor Bell recommended the re-appointment of Members Tim Bradshaw, Joe Pyles, and George Keltner to the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission. Each required a separate vote. All were approved unanimously. The four year term of each commissioner is May 2005 to May 2009.

Mayor Bell recommends signing a 2005-2006 Municipal Aid Coop Agreement with the Intergovernmental Cabinet and the Department of Transportation. The action was requested by Curtis Hardwick of the Intergovernmental Cabinet and was recommended by Mayor Bell. The vote was 6-0, following a motion by Council Member Craig Dean, with a second by Council Member June Parson.

Joe Moore moves adjournment and maintains tradition. At 7:20 p.m. CDT, Mayor Bell gave the nod to Councilman Joe Moore to perform his ceremonial function, saying, "It's about that time, Joe," and Mr. Moore said, "Let's go home," continuing the Council's long standing tradition to defer to Mr. Moore for this important function. Mr. Moore's motion needed no second and the meeting was adjourned.

This story was posted on 2005-05-04 21:55:48
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