Council moves forward on committee, other reforms
The Versailles City Council Tuesday held first readings on ordinances dealing with committee meeting postings and other “transparency” issues that had been sparred about at the last meeting.
Among the highlights:
The agenda for full council meetings would be posted on the city’s website not later than the close of business Friday before the next Tuesday’s council meeting.
Committee membership could only change mid-term with the recommendation of the mayor and unanimous approval of the council. Council members shall make “every effort” to schedule meetings of standing committees on the first and third Tuesdays of each month and schedule them “sufficiently in advance” to allow the agenda topic to be announced at the regular City Council meeting preceding it.
Committee meetings must be announced to the city clerk no later than 72 hours before the meeting, and the notice and agenda of the meeting must be posted on the city’s website.
Committee meeting minutes will be kept by the chair of the committee and recorded with the city clerk or designee no later than 72 hours after approval of the minutes at the subsequent committee meeting. Traugott said he believed the full council can also approve committee minutes, and after the meeting, he said that portion of the ordinance might need to be amended before the second reading.
Monthly budget status reports shall be provided to the council by the 15th day of the following month and “promptly posted” on the city’s website.
At the Aug. 20 meeting, Council Member Laura Dake pointed out that advance notice of Pavilion Committee meetings was not given and said she’d had trouble obtaining information about the committee’s work. “If I can’t, as a city council person, get information when I ask for it, and I can’t get complete information, how likely is it that a community member will be able to get information? What else are we not telling people? We need to be more transparent,” Dake said. Traugott responded that distrust of government had increased because,
“We’ve just spent 10 minutes criticizing a committee …”
Tuesday, during the public comment portion of the meeting, Lisa Johnson introduced herself by saying she was a citizen and mayoral candidate (for Versailles) who’d been attending council meetings for the last nine months. She said she tried to attend meetings of each of the six standing committees as well, “Which are posted only 24 hours in advance … on a bulletin board inside the City Hall (Versailles Municipal Building), which often makes it difficult for me to attend.”
Johnson said she’d submitted Open Records requests for minutes and actions taken at every meeting but was told minutes for the committee meetings were not taken. She said her goal was to gain a better “operational understanding of the city’s business and how decisions about taxpayer dollars are being made.”
After she finished, Traugott thanked her. Later in the meeting, Council Member Ken Kerkhoff said full council approval is necessary for any action, including those recommended by committees, to be taken. If there was no action taken by a committee, he said, there didn’t have to be minutes. City Attorney Bill Moore agreed, but said it would be a better practice for committees to begin keeping minutes, and one of the ordinances introduced later mandates that.
Cell phone boost
The council unanimously approved a resolution awarding a non-exclusive 10-year franchise with Kentucky Backhaul Transmission Networks, LLC. The company touts its ability to boost cell phone signals.
Longtime Journey Provisions Director Heather Nichols, who recently announced she was stepping down from the church’s thrift store post, was honored by the council. She received a standing ovation after the council voted unanimously for a resolution naming her the city’s Honorary Director of Compassion.
“ … Versailles is a better community because Heather chose to live and minister here,” the resolution stated.
The council unanimously approved a new three-year contract with the company that’s provided fireworks for the last four 4th of July shows. The price remains the same, $12,000 per year. Council Member Mike Coleman, the longtime organizer of the event, said he again expects private donations to pay for a good portion of the show.
The council heard first reading of an ordinance adding discharged grass clippings, which can get in the storm sewer system and pose hazards to bicyclists and others, to the city’s list of nuisances.
Police station consoles
The council unanimously approved new Police Chief Mike Murray’s recommendation that they accept the low bid of $42,656 by Watson Consoles for dispatch equipment at the new police station, which could be ready by late spring.