Loyall City Council will explore the possibility of using franchise fees and service deposits as a means of shoring up the city’s finances.
During their recent monthly meeting, city treasurer Mandy Longworth provided council members with documents they had requested, detailing all the taxes applicable for a city of their size as well as the limitations that exist on using the money.
She also included a “flow sheet” showing the decline in revenue in each of the city’s departments since 2012.
Longworth noted the law also allows cities to “hold the landowners accountable” for garbage and sewer services to property, she noted.
“We can make them pay a deposit before they can get garbage or sewer service, but it would have to be put in an escrow account,” Longworth said.
Mayor Clarence Longworth noted that, as of the first of the year, the city had 43 charge-offs for sewer services, with some of those uncollected bills being as high as $300.
Other than accepting the treasurer’s financial report, the council took no action addressing the city’s revenue issue.
For the past few months, the city has been considering naming the new bridge in town for local veterans killed in action in Vietnam.
The mayor said since the council agreed to a resolution to that effect last month, “everything that could go wrong, did.”
Apparently the council failed to record a vote on the resolution because no one offered a motion. They had simply agreed to support the proposed resolution to name the bridge for Greg Cornett and all Vietnam War veterans.
The procedural issue was discovered after council member Trena Cornett had taken the issue before Harlan Fiscal Court. The court approved their own resolution in support of the city’s actions, and now Loyall needed to provide their documentation to send to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet requesting a sign.
Fiscal Court’s letter stated the city would need to handle all the paperwork and reimburse the state for the cost of the signs and related materials.
As a result, the mayor asked council for a motion to withdraw their earlier resolution and start over. County government told the city it would need to appoint a spokesperson and call a public meeting on the issue.
But first the council must decide the exact name they want to place on the bridge. The mayor also said, while the state will probably furnish the signs (there are exceptions), the city has the option to design it and send it to the state for approval.
Trena Cornett said the accepted practice in the county and around the state is to name a bridge after an individual, not groups. There is a plaque in Harlan County that has all the names of all the Vietnam War soldiers on it and Cornett said, after speaking with several Vietnam veterans, they did not have a problem with it being named for an individual who actually gave their life there.
“Personally, I would like to see it named just for him,” she said, “the Specialist 4 Gregory D. Cornett Memorial Bridge.”
The mayor said the city will proceed to get everything needed before contacting the state’s regional highway office in Manchester.
“It will probably need to go back through fiscal court to get them to change their resolution,” the mayor added.
At that point, the council voted to withdraw their previous resolution and proceed in the proper order to prepare a corrected one.
The mayor asked Cornett to head the committee and she agreed, adding that her family would like to pay for the sign. The mayor suggested the public meeting on the issue could be held at the next council meeting on April 11.
Council member Clark Bailey asked if the city was trying to do something with the old city pool on Park Hill that has been out of service for years.
The mayor said, while it was his dream for the city to have that facility in use again, the costs were not feasible and the liability was such that they may have to fill it in. The first estimate to get it functional was $300,000 and that was nine years ago, he said.
Last year the estimated cost was over $400,000 and the city was not expected to receive the $500,000 the county has set aside for youth recreation from a prior administration.
“A lot of the stipulations have changed since it was first put in,” the mayor reported. “I’m afraid it’s too late. They (county government) said they wanted to put the money in something that they would get a good return on and for the youth of Harlan County but they didn’t want to put the money toward upgrading and reopening the pool.”
In other action, the council approved first reading of an ordinance changing the traffic flow pattern on Cedar Street in Old Loyall following the opening of the new Wilkerson Street bridge. Following the second reading, two-way traffic will be allowed from the intersection of Cedar and Wilkerson streets next to the First Baptist Church.
Fire Chief Vern Guffy told the council the Tele-Squirt is out of service and needs expensive repair. Mayor Longworth advised either fix it or get rid of it because it is hard on the equipment to just let it sit and not be used. Guffy said another fire department had looked at it, but did not want it and, because of its size, no other local department had anywhere to store it.
The mayor said if the city was going to use it he would not object to having it fixed, but as far as he was aware it had only been used a couple of times and that had been in response to fires out of the city.
During his street report, Guffy advised the council that when his department does fire inspections, they could tell citizens about the two garbage pick-ups a month and remind people that when they get new furniture, the furniture company is supposed to haul away the old.
Apparently some people, he added, have been bringing items to Loyall to be hauled off, which is not allowed. The mayor said he needed to inform the police officers of any such incidents.
Council also addressed the following issues:
• It was reported that garbage men were complaining about trying to make their pick-ups in Old Loyall and being attacked by dogs that are running loose. The issue was directed to the police department to call Animal Control to pick them up or cite the owners to court. The mayor said the city had received complaints but unless the police are involved, the animal shelter won’t even talk to them.
• Councilman Bailey reported the flag needed to be replaced and, if it is being flown at night, it needs to be illuminated. The mayor said the only thing the city could do is try to find some kind of directional light for it.