By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
It took them two meetings to make the decision, but Grayson city council moved to approve a library request for additional staff funding during a special session on Monday evening. But not before discussing other alternatives, admonishing the fiscal court for “taxing Grayson and Olive Hill residents twice,” having an attempt to table it again die for lack of a motion, and councilman Terry Stamper withdrawing his motion to fund it at $7,500 before seconding a motion from Troy Combs to fund it at the same level.
Library director Matt Parsons had first brought the issue to city council last week, during their regular meeting, after securing a promise from the fiscal court to fund 50 percent of the salary for an additional employee if the cities would fund 25 percent each. Parsons, and Grayson branch manager Mattie Newton, had come to fiscal court first after a male patron made inappropriate advances and comments aimed toward Newton and other library patrons and volunteers, leaving her worried for her safety and the safety of others when working alone in the branch.
The incident briefly led to the closure of the branch; however, it was reopened after volunteers and board members were scheduled to work there, ensuring no one had to work alone until permanent arrangements could be made.
Councilman Bradley Cotten voiced his support for the funding in the Tuesday regular meeting, noting all the good the library does for the community and telling his colleagues, “they’re just trying to keep the place open, and if we can help them we should.”
However, after some concern from other council members about allocating funds in such a tight budget, before it had been amended, Combs moved to schedule the Monday special session with the library issue on the agenda.
At that meeting Parsons was able to secure a commitment for $7,500 for the salary needs “contingent on amendments to the budget and proper allocation of funds” from council.
That number hit squarely in the middle of the $5,000 to $10,000 he’d sought, with hopes that a $10,000 promise from the cities would secure a $20,000 commitment from fiscal court, and fund extra staff at both ends of the county.
Without sufficient commitment, he said, he might not be able to secure enough from fiscal court to cover two salaries, even part time.
But despite that, Parsons did receive a nice private contribution to the library’s needs from Larry Doucet and his business partners in Route 5 Village, Dustin Burchett and Phillip Green. While the $5,000 offered by Doucet on behalf of his business partners – which he said he supported in part because of the importance of the library in securing grants and other business ventures – is a boon that Parsons said he wouldn’t turn down for the library, it can’t be counted against the total for matching funds offered by fiscal court.
Council also moved to pass their blighted property ordinance on second reading, after rejecting a previous version due to confusing language and holding the first reading of the new, revised ordinance the previous Tuesday.
That ordinance, which councilman Willis Johnson said he was “still a little afraid of” because of concerns about potential abuse, allows the city to declare a property abandoned if it is “dilapidated, unsanitary, unsafe, vermin infested or otherwise dangerous,” has been tax delinquent for at least three years, or “located within a development area established under KRS 65.7049, 65.7051, and 65.7053.” It also allows the code enforcement officer to determine if a structure is “blighted” or “deteriorated” or “declared a public nuisance” based on certain criteria related to the physical condition of a property – including access to utilities for housing.
The rate of tax levied on such properties will be $1.50 per each $100 of assessed value, a significantly higher rate than the $0.187 per $100 for real estate or $0.1919 for personal property rates set at the Tuesday regular meeting.
Those rates, which are lower than previous years but still expected to bring in more revenue because of rising property values, will have to be added to a future amended budget along with the changes to library funding they will help support.
In other action in their regular meeting the council moved to accept a recommendation to rezone a portion of East Second Street from residential to central business, set Trick-or-Treat for 6 – 8 p.m. on Halloween, October 31, but tabled a request related to street closures for Funtoberfest. Despite no members of Rotary present at the special meeting to answer questions, after much discussion and debate council moved to close Park Street for the Funtoberfest event, but to leave the Second Street connector open for local traffic. They also moved to approve use of the city building parking lot for inflatables.
In other delayed action city attorney Jason Greer told the owner of a new coffee shop that, based on his research since the previous meeting, the city could not authorize the placement of a drive through within an alley that could block access to a private residence. However, as the owner, Mr. Sok H. Van, and his contractors continued to discuss other options, Greer told them the back of the store was private property and the city couldn’t prevent them from putting in a drive-up window there if the landlord had no problem with it.
“The backend is private property, and you can do whatever you like (with the property owner’s permission),” Greer said.
Council also moved to make their November meeting a special session, moving it back two days to November 10 and from the evening to 9 a.m. so they can hold it in front of middle school social studies students and answer any questions.
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