Council passes 25 percent sewer rate cut
In a brief meeting Monday, the Midway City Council voted 4 to 1 to pass an ordinance backed by Mayor Grayson Vandegrift that will cut sewer rates by 25 percent beginning in January.
Two competing plans were on the agenda: Vandegrift’s and one authored by Council Member Bruce Southworth that would have cut sewer rates by 15 percent. Vandegrift’s was first on the agenda, and after it passed, with Southworth abstaining and Council Member Kaye Nita Vandegrift voting no, the second was tabled.
Before the first vote, Council Member Steve Simoff asked Vandegrift how much money the average family would save if the measure passed. About $120 a year, Vandegrift responded. Simoff also asked whether future major sewer projects would require a rate increase. Vandegrift said yes, but that they wouldn’t know if one will be needed in the near future until a $160,000 camera survey and clean-out project is finished next year. Vandegrift said the city could reduce the street paving budget to help offset the cost of major sewer work, but that wouldn’t affect pothole and other street repairs.
Gallagher asked about the impact of a requested rate increase from Kentucky-American Water, which Vandegrift said he was fighting, noting it was the utilities’ seventh or eighth request for a hike in the last 10 or 11 years. He said any increase approved by the state would be reflected on the water portion of customers’ water and sewer bills. Gallagher asked what would happen if the council held off on lowering sewer rates. Vandegrift answered, “In a couple years, we may still have to raise them anyway to do a major project, and people are going to say, ‘Dang it, you all always come back asking for more and never give it back when you don’t need it anymore.’ I’m afraid what it will do (not cutting the sewer rate) is it will kill the appetite to do infrastructure. …”
Vandegrift touted the 25 percent rate cut during his mayoral campaign, saying the city could afford it because the council paid off the old and new sewer plants this year.
Outgoing council members Steve Simoff, Johnny Wilson and John McDaniel were honored at the end of their last meeting. Resolutions praising each passed unanimously, with the honored council member abstaining. Each was praised for helping increase investments while cutting taxes.
Council Member Johnny Miller’s resolution expressed admiration for a job well done and a “great eye for detail” after being appointed by the council last spring following the death of Council Member Libby Warfield. Miller said he appreciated working with everyone and that he hoped he had made a small impact on the city. Dec. 29 will be “Johnny Miller Day.”
Simoff was praised for his devotion to improving public spaces such as the basketball court and Walter Bradley Jr. Park during his one term on the council, and for being a great ambassador for Midway. Simoff said he’d found the experience “extremely educational” and fun. “Steve Simoff Day” will be Dec. 30.
The resolution for Council Member John McDaniel, a lifelong Midway resident, noted his passion and ever-present involvement in a wide variety of city activities. McDaniel said he’d learned a lot, hoped he’d accomplished a little bit, and planned on attending council meetings as a citizen, as he did before being elected in 2016. “Thanks for listening to my input, and good luck,” McDaniel said. “John McDaniel Day” will be Dec. 31.
Each man was born in 1949, prompting Southworth to say that had been a good year for Midway.
At the end of the meeting, McDaniel said he hoped the council would consider doing more to make the city’s two black cemeteries more presentable. Vandegrift said it was a great idea. Moments later, McDaniel moved that the meeting be adjourned, Miller seconded it, and the motion passed unanimously.