Council pushes for EDA change
In a short meeting, the Versailles City Council Tuesday voted 4 to 0 to alter the terms of the city's contract with the Woodford Economic Development Authority (EDA) and its paid relationship with the Bluegrass Area Development District (Bluegrass ADD). Council members Owen Roberts and Gary Jones were absent. Currently, the cities of Versailles and Midway and Woodford County pay Bluegrass ADD $45,000 for the services of Craig McAnelly, who serves as the EDA's executive director. Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott's proposal would give unpaid EDA Chairman John Soper $60,000 a year plus $721 a month for health insurance for a total of $68,652. Since the beginning of the year, Soper has been paid $5,300 a month by the Versailles City Council for economic development services to the city. Traugott said the move wasn't an affront to McAnelly, who Traugott said has done a good job for the EDA. Traugott's suggestion would require the city of Midway to increase annual payments to the EDA by more than 500 percent - from $5,000 to $26,884. The county's payment would also increase, from $22,500 to $26,884, as would the city of Versailles's, and the total EDA budget would rise from $50,000 to 80,652. "The issue is when you look at the amount of money that's being spent on it, it's always been my intention, when Soper came on (with the city), that we would segue into Craig leaving and Soper kind of filling that void, as a local fellow. In my opinion, that time has come," Traugott said. Traugott said the city of Versailles is paying "a good deal" for economic development, but a lot of the work done by the EDA is bearing fruit in Midway. "I'm hopeful that we can reach an agreement where we're still a part, jointly, with Midway and the county on this, but as it sits right now, it appears we're subsidizing the operation," Traugott said. "We have zero industrial land that's not being litigated right now ." Council member Carl Ellis asked Traugott if he thought the city of Midway would go for the proposal. Traugott said he wouldn't venture to speak for Midway. City Attorney Bill Moore said, "It's only fair. They're getting the gravy at the moment. . They wouldn't have (new employers at Midway Station) if we hadn't had John (Soper) working on it." Reached by phone, Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said he had some concerns about the proposal, but that he was against paying more without more EDA appointments from Midway, which currently has only one. "I don't want to be penny-wise and pound-foolish. I do believe we're on a roll right now and what we're doing is working," Vandegrift said. Woodford Judge-Executive John Coyle said he'd seen the proposal, but hadn't spoken to Vandegrift or County Attorney Alan George about it. He said it will probably be added to the agenda for next Tuesday's court meeting. Upstairs residences The council unanimously approved an ordinance amending city zoning laws to permit residences on upper floors of businesses in professional zones. Voting concerns Traugott said he'd been contacted by someone living in public housing on Poplar Street who complained about having to walk to the voting precinct at a fire station on Big Sink Pike. The council discussed the matter for a few minutes and Traugott said he'd pass on the citizen's concerns to the Board of Elections or the county clerk. Executive session The council went into executive session to discuss the potential purchase of property, but took no action afterwards.