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Traugott delivers state of city address

In a 30-minute election-year State of the City address at the Versailles City Council Tuesday, Mayor Brian Traugott spoke of progress last year and “a vision for 2018.”

Traugott called 2017 “another year of great successes,” saying the government is operating in a way that every citizen of Versailles can be proud of. He also spread the credit, mentioning by name each council member and department heads.

He touted work on the new $5 million police station on the old St. Leo School site, saying while progress might be slower than some would like, ground would be broken in March. A renewed police merger between the two city governments and the county “guarantees a high level of service for all of Woodford County for the foreseeable future.” He said progress had been made in the opiate problem and credited Raising Awareness Woodford County (RAW) for its help on the issue. Three-quarters of patrol officers now have body cameras, he said.

Traugott praised Public Works Director Bart Miller for his leadership on the wastewater treatment plant upgrade and expansion and said the project should be finished by fall of 2019. Despite rate increases needed to pay for the $20 million project, Traugott said city sewer rates were four percent lower than similarly-sized cities in Central Kentucky.

Traugott said economic development projects like More Than A Bakery, which will double its number of workers to 100 early this year, continues apace. Quad Graphics invested $70 million in its facility here and Yokohama invested $4.4 million in new equipment and will add 130 new employees, he said

He spoke of the recent purchase of the Lexington Road Plaza by U-Haul as something that “threw us all for a loop with a purchaser that came out of nowhere. It remains my position that the space in that shopping center is best suited for retail based on the current zoning and adjacent use and see very little light in the gap on that stance.”

He credited the Downtown Planning Advisory Committee (DPAC), led by Council Member Laura Dake, for “exploring ideas, proposing innovative improvements such as the soon to sprout rain gardens on Lexington Street, and soliciting a wide array of input.” Development in the Amsden Building, including a bourbon bar scheduled to open soon, was another sign of downtown progress, Traugott said.

Traugott said a completed sidewalk on Old Dry Ridge Road gives a safe route for residents of Rose Ridge and Cedar Ridge to get to the existing walking path on Kentucky 33. He also credited Magistrate Mary Ann Gill (Dist. 7) for her work on the Huntertown Road sidewalk project, noting that progress has been slowed due to “bureaucratic red tape.”

Traugott also spoke of an effort to allow chickens to be kept within city limits – “hopefully” prohibiting roosters, and another ordinance that would provide “clear minimum standards of care for our domestic four-legged friends.” Animal advocates spoke at the preceding committee meeting and the council meeting in favor of the latter.

He applauded the council’s commitment to preserve the character of Maple Street, the site of the demolition of the old Woodford Middle School.

Traugott said the council’s Finance Committee would continue to pursue a third internet and second cable television provider for the city.

“Our long-term goal is to guarantee that every property within the city limits has access to fast, reliable and affordable internet service,” he said.

He praised the Woodford County Health Department’s implementation of the Harm Reduction Syringe Exchange Program, which went into effect last week and was allowed by “yes” votes from the council and Woodford Fiscal Court. Traugott said a recent audit of the city’s finances was “without flaw” and the city’s rainy day fund had increased by almost $700,000.

Versailles recently became one of 18 cities in the state to be named a Certified City of Ethics, he said. A decision a few years ago to hire an IT specialist has saved the city money and will soon allow utility customers to pay by credit card, Traugott said. Employee health insurance costs were down and for the fourth consecutive year, the city’s unemployment insurance assessment would not cost a thing.

“In an effort to broaden outreach efforts, I am asking the Administrative and Legal Committee to work on a position description for an assistant for minority empowerment,” Traugott said, saying he’d work with Council Member Mary Bradley on the hire.

Traugott said 2018 would be “filled with amazing opportunities -- and probably a few challenges.”

Soper, police contract

A motion to extend John Soper’s contract to provide economic development services to the city passed 5 to 0, with Dake abstaining. Soper is paid $5,720 a month, with Versailles paying 50 percent, Midway 15 percent, and the county 35 percent.

The council unanimously approved a five-year interlocal agreement with Midway for 18-hour-a-day police service there. For more information on the Soper and police deals, please see the Midway City Council article.

Water plant windows

The council unanimously approved a low bid of $6,345 from HEK Glass, Inc. of Lexington to replace 13 windows at the water plant.

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