Lynch Mayor Thomas Vicini has requested that Cumberland officials delay monthly payments of $500 until July 1, when the new fiscal year begins. Both Benham and Lynch have been paying $250 for dispatching services provided through Cumberland.
"That's going to be a strain on us," Vicini said during a special-called meeting of the Cumberland City Council on Tuesday. Vicini said he understands the need for the increase and that the city has justifiable reasons for the adjustment, but as of now the city of Lynch "has no money" in its budget for an extra $250 a month. Waiting until the new fiscal year begins will allow for adjustments to the city's budget, he said.
"We can build it into next year's budget if we wait until July 1," he said. Vicini also requested a cost analysis to detail each price increase and a written agreement between both cities.
"(The agreement) will obligate us to keep the dispatching services and you to provide those services," Vicini told Cumberland council members.
Betty Howard, mayor of Benham, said the city's budget is "skin-tight" and there is little, if any, room for adjustment. She said the recent increase in gasoline prices has also affected the city, causing additional increases in other necessities.
"We'd prefer they wait (until the new fiscal year)," she said. The city is still reviewing the issue and discussing options, she said.
Cumberland Mayor Carl Hatfield acknowledged that the timing was not convenient for the increase but explained during the meeting that Cumberland is not only providing the dispatching service but carrying the majority of the financial load for those services.
"The expense (of the dispatching services) is about $5,400 a month. We are proud to service Lynch and Benham we feel this is still a fair and equal price," Hatfield said.
Three dispatchers work around the clock, Hatfield said, bringing the bill for dispatching services for the three cities to a total of $6,000 a month. With the price increase, Benham and Lynch together would contribute $1,000 a month to that amount.
Cumberland council member Paul Augusta said the city had to undergo a "total restructuring" not long ago and had to begin reviewing finances.
"This can't be construed as unfair by anybody. I know the timing's not good, but it's unfair for the citizens of Cumberland to pay these taxes," he said.
Budgets can be adjusted or amended, he said.
"If you have the money," Vicini said.
Cumberland council members approved Vicini's request and agreed that the city of Lynch may begin paying the extra $250 a month for dispatching services on July 1. A back pay of $1,250 for the months of February through June will also be due, which Vicini said will be covered in next year's budget. That will bring Lynch's total contribution to $7,250 for dispatching services for the fiscal year beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2007. The agreement is subject to approval by Lynch City Council members.
Both parties agreed that more assistance from the county's 911 service is needed in the Tri-City area and discussed attending the next E-911 advisory board meeting.
In other action from Tuesday's special-called meeting of the Cumberland City Council:
-- Council members approved the first reading of a blighted buildings ordinance that would give the city the authority to require that a blighted or deteriorated structure be restored. A draft of the ordinance, prepared by city attorney Parker Boggs, states that blighted and deteriorated properties exist in the city and there is a need "for the exercise of powers, functions and duties conferred by House Bill 762 of the 1984 regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly."
Such property includes "any vacant structure or vacant or unimproved lot or parcel of ground in a predominantly built-up neighborhood" that poses a health or safety threat, public nuisance or has been tax delinquent for a period of at least three years.
"This is not a situation where a building needs to be painted," Boggs said.
Under the ordinance, eminent domain would give the city the authority to acquire any property determined to be blighted or deteriorated and give the city "the power to hold, clear, manage or dispose of property." A Property Review Commission would be established to determine what properties would be classified as blighted or deteriorated.
The issue will be discussed further at the council's next meeting.
-- With the expiration of the city's current employee health package approaching, council members approved a new health plan through CHA Health. Beginning in March, employees will be covered through a base plan, referred to as the G110 plan. Hospital copays will be $250, as opposed to $150 for the current plan. A specialist copay would be $10 more at $30. The total benefits under the city's current plan is $4,022.85. Under the new plan, that total will be $4,895.85. With healthcare costs increasing, Hatfield said adjustments were expected.
-- Bill Coke was reappointed to the Housing Authority Commission for a four-year term effective April 1.
-- Council members approved a contract with Leo Miller & Associates.
The next meeting of the Cumberland City Council will be 6:30 p.m. March 14 at city hall.