By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
March 27, 2013 —
Tuesday night’s special meeting of the Olive Hill City Council featured tense questions surrounding water fund appropriations, and proposed overhauls to the city’s procedures and personnel duties.
Bryan Kirby of Community and Economic Development Associates, Inc. (CEDA) was present at the meeting to answer Council questions regarding why a water clarifier was not purchased with funds earmarked for that purpose.
A 2006 press release from the Department of Local Government states that the project funds were given to the Olive Hill Water District by then Gov. Ernie Fletcher to, “build an eight-mile interconnect with the Grayson Utility Commission, rehabilitate older lines east of Olive Hill, install radio-read meters, and build a new clarifier at the water treatment plant.”
Kirby is the project administrator for many of the city’s past and ongoing infrastructure development initiatives.
Though Kirby was able to provide information regarding expenditures from the $1.3 million in funds that confirm many of the intended projects had been completed, he could not give specific details on why a new clarifier was left out of the project plan.
“I can’t tell you that. I don’t know where you’re going to find that information. If you haven’t been able to find it in past meeting minutes, I can’t help you,” Kirby said.
Council member Glenn Meade sparred with Kirby, asserting that he and the Council intend to find those responsible for overlooking a piece of equipment that could leave the city without water if it fails.
“This Council has voted for an investigation as to why this clarifier wasn’t purchased, and we will pursue this to the fullest extent of our ability until we find answers,” said Meade.
The Council then looked at revised plans that will correct errors with the failed water filtration designed system by E.L. Robinson Engineering – the Ashland firm overseeing upgrades to the water treatment facility.
Council member Jerry Callihan, who was openly critical of the original design and the engineer that drafted it, Paul Amburgey, expressed satisfaction with the revised plan and believes it will correct the errors in the system.
“This is what we should have done in the first place. The two filtration lagoons will hold 85,000 gallons each, which is double the amount that the first plan called for,” Callihan said.
The Council then took up the issue of examining the electric rate ordinance for any errors or items overlooked originally that they feel should be corrected.
After lengthy discussion regarding the demand metering threshold for residential customers, the Council decided to table the issue and hold a working session before the next regular Council meeting regarding average residential kilowatt usage.
Mayor Kenny Fankell was then empowered by the Council to assign general labor duties to the city’s Code Enforcement Office, Taylor Duncan, in lieu of creating a new position of Civil Enforcement Officer/General Laborer.
The move will ease the budgetary burden on the city and require Duncan to work a standard 40-hour week, which the Council hopes will give him more opportunity to address structural issues within the city while also performing other needed tasks.
Meade then moved for a second reading of an ordinance that would require all city-appointed boards and commissions to make monthly reports to the City Council or face being dissolved.
While all Council members agreed that these reports need to be filed, some feared the language of the ordinance might be too strong and could be interpreted as forcing the Council to dissolve committees that might have a legitimate reason for missing a monthly report.
“I agree that we need the ability to dissolve them if necessary, but I think we need to hear their side of the story before we make that decision,” said Council member Angie Johnson Fultz.
The Council agreed to revise the language of the ordinance to allow for more flexibility, and a new second reading will be scheduled.
Meade then read an ordinance that would re-classify the position of City Clerk, reducing the job’s pay grade and limiting the clerk’s duties to only those expressly defined within the Kentucky Revised Statues.
Specifically, the ordinance would also prohibit the City Clerk from exercising any “managerial or administrative authority over any city departments or personnel therein, including purchasing decisions” and also requires that “all duties related to utility operations outside the scope of City Clerk duties shall cease on adoption of this ordinance.”
The work session for the electric rate ordinance is scheduled for April 9 at 6 p.m. and the next regular Council meeting will be held on April 16 at 6 p.m. Both meetings will be at the Olive Hill Senior Community Center.
Joe Lewis can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 286-4201.