Vandegrift proposes new water supplier for Midway
Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told the Midway City Council Monday that the city can save residents money on their utility bills by striking a deal with the Frankfort Plant Board for water. Reading from a prepared speech, Vandegrift said he’d discussed the matter with executives of the Frankfort Plant Board, including their chief engineer, who are “ready, willing, and able to sell us water at a wholesale rate.” Kentucky-American Water, which struck a 40-year deal with the City of Midway in 1985, charges $4.21 per thousand gallons, while the Frankfort Plant Board’s rate is $2.55 – 40 percent less. Vandegrift said City Attorney Phil Moloney and his associates believe that a case before the state Supreme Court arguing that Kentucky-American shouldn’t be considered a utility, but rather a franchise, was unlikely to succeed. Meanwhile, a 21.5 percent proposed rate hike by Kentucky-American is before the Public Service Commission, which typically grants utilities a portion of what they request. “We owe it to our citizens to find a source of clean, potable water at a reasonable price, and this seems like a no-brainer. We will be responsible for running a waterline to the Duckers area, less than two miles from Midway, to hook in with the Frankfort Plant Board’s 20-inch supply line. … It is my firm resolve that we begin now the process of switching water suppliers, so that come 2025 we’re ready to flip the switch and begin drawing our water from a local, municipal-minded utility as opposed to a publicly traded profit-making entity. It has become abundantly clear that Kentucky American’s business model is going to continue to be based on frequent rate increases. To me, that is unacceptable, and we shouldn’t let ourselves be held for ransom every time they decide they’re not making their executives and shareholders enough money at the expense of the rest of us,” Vandegrift said. Vandegrift asked the council’s Public Works and Services Committee, chaired by Council Member Bruce Southworth, to look into the logistics and costs of running the new water line, which will likely include the purchasing of easements, he said. Budget A first reading of the fiscal year 2020 budget was held and a special council session scheduled for a second reading and vote on Thursday, June 20, at 5 p.m. The plan calls for $1,980,291 in general fund spending, $500,045 in sewer fund spending, and $695,935 in water fund spending. Vandegrift said the $15,000 for the city’s sidewalk repair cost-sharing program pushed to next year’s budget (making for a total of $30,000) will allow the council to increase the city’s share to more than $1,000. Eleven property owners applied for the program, with one estimate at $3,400. Vandegrift suggested the council increase the city’s match to $2,000. Event permits Event permits were unanimously approved for the third annual Bourbon Country Burn bicycle race on Sept. 27, which a planner said would see 1,000 cyclists pedal through Midway, and the 45th annual Midway Fall Festival, which will take place Sept. 21-22. The latter motion will also allow the closure of East Main Street and Gratz Street from Dudley to Bruen streets from that Friday at 8 a.m. to Sunday at 8 p.m. In response to a question from event planner Elisha Holt, Council Members Sara Hicks and Kaye Nita Gallagher said non-amplified live music would be allowed that Sunday morning beginning at 8 – one hour after the start of the the 10th annual Iron Horse Half Marathon.