Council passes $2.588 million budget
MIDWAY - The city council Monday voted 5 to 0 to approve a $2,588,626 budget for fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1. The projected spending total includes expenditures from the sewer and water funds, which are supported by customer fees. Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher was absent. The budget projects a beginning general fund balance of $873,549 and estimated revenues of $1,506,867, leaving the balance the same. New spending includes $10,000 for storm drain, but less money for sidewalks, from $27,000 in fiscal '17 to $10,000 for fiscal '18. (Later in the meeting, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the council's sidewalk improvement program, which split costs between property owners and the city, has been a success.) The budget also includes $8,000 for a pavilion roof at Walter Bradley, Jr. Park, $17,000 for other improvements there, and $20,000 for the softball field. Vandegrift called it the "easiest, most well-thought-out, smoothest budget he's ever seen." After the meeting, he said the projected increase in occupational taxes from $400,000 to $500,000 was a conservative estimate, and that the city could receive as much as $800,000. Much of that increase is due to the hundreds of jobs coming to Midway Station. Council, mayor salaries The council spent several minutes discussing a proposed pay hike for members and the mayor. During the last meeting, Council Member Sara Hicks said she'd looked at salary figures of cities of Midway's size provided by the Kentucky League of Cities (KLC). Hicks said she believed council members should be paid $400 a month (up from $50, for a total of $4,800 per year) and the mayor should be paid $1,000 a month (up from $100, for a total of $12,000 annually). She said one city the size of Midway gave annual salaries of up to $7,433 for council members and $27,000 for its mayor. Hicks cited a much higher work load expected with the vastly increased activity at Midway Station as a reason for the increase. Monday, Council Member Libby Warfield said she'd also seen figures from the KLC that she hadn't had a chance to "completely look at," adding that the increase was larger than anyone would have expected. Vandegrift said he was torn as well. Warfield said she had "not as much of a problem" with the proposed increase for the mayor because it carries a four-year term. She suggested a smaller initial increase for council members with another pay hike coming two years later. Council Member Steve Simoff told Warfield that he knew how hard she'd been working on cemetery matters. "If you're putting in that kind of time, then a salary increase is appropriate," Simoff said. Warfield said her quick review of KLC figures showed six cities like Midway paying an average of $6,000 annually to the mayor and $1,900 to council members. Hicks said she believed the difference had to do with how active those towns and their regions are. "For the size of our town, we're one of the most active towns ..." Hicks said. "We're a high tourist target for the state. We have a lot of visitors. Probably more than many of those towns on that list." Vandegrift said he believed a straw poll consensus warranted moving forward on the issue and asked City Attorney Phil Moloney to draft an ordinance. No date was set for first and second readings, and members of the public are given the opportunity to speak at the beginning of each council meeting. "This is a subject that needs plenty of airing out, and (we need to) give the public plenty of opportunity to weigh in," he said. Cemetery House Vandegrift declared the formal bidding process for the old caretaker's house at Midway Cemetery, with the sold bid being $11,865 to tear down the house. Vandegrift said Warfield knew of other entities that could do the job at a lower cost. Vandegrift said the city would continue to seek bids on an informal basis.