Council moves forward on Fairness Ordinance
The Versailles City Council held a first reading Tuesday of an ordinance designed to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. During the preceding public comment portion, no one asked to speak about the proposal, which has consumed much of the council’s meeting time over the past two months, including a two-and-a-half-hour public hearing Aug. 6. The ordinance provides exemptions in several areas. In public accommodations, restrooms, shower rooms and similar facilities designed for different genders are exempted. In employment practices, churches, schools, colleges, universities or other religiously affiliated organizations are exempted. A statutory exemption notes that state law prevents the city from “ … substantially burdening a person’s freedom of religion. Where a person, by action or inaction, violates the provisions of this (ordinance) due to a sincerely held religious belief, the City, upon appeal by a party to a complaint … must prove by clear and convincing evidence that there is a compelling governmental interest met in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and that the City has used the least restrictive means to further that interest to establish the existence of the violation. …” The ordinance would be administered and enforced by the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Human Rights Commission (HRC). Violations would be subject to civil penalties of $100 to $500. Appeals could be filed with the city council within 30 days of the HRC finding. The ordinance would also make it unlawful to obstruct a case or retaliate against the complainant. Findings of a frivolous complaint could be subject to an award of attorney fees and costs for the city and non-violating party. A second reading and vote on the ordinance will take place at the council’s next meeting on Oct. 1. U-Haul Mayor Brian Traugott passed out a proposed letter to Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission Director Pattie Wilson about a possible deal with U-Haul regarding a zone change. At the last council meeting, Traugott and a U-Haul representative discussed the company’s negotiations with possible renters of the old Kroger building, which has been vacant for more than four years. Traugott has indicated a willingness to push for a zone change or conditional use permit allowing U-Haul to offer indoor climate-controlled storage services in the old Kmart building as an incentive for the company to find a tenant. Council Member Laura Dake said she had a problem with the letter to Wilson. She said she was concerned about having indoor storage in a commercial district, and thought the company should find a renter before the city pursues a zone change. Council members discussed the matter for several minutes, including “big box” legislation designed to make it harder for companies to leave empty buildings behind. Council members Fred Siegelman and Ken Kerkhoff indicated they didn’t favor such an ordinance. There was no vote on whether to send the letter. The issue will likely be raised again in the near future. Business occupational licenses The council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance establishing a $50 business occupational license fee and a $50 fine for people conducting business without a license. The ordinance also establishes a minimum net profit license fee of $50, regardless of the net profit tax due on annual returns. Change orders The council unanimously approved 16 change orders for the new Versailles Police Station, 12 of which were requests for time extensions related to the 69 “adverse weather days.” The largest was a $10,335.92 increase in construction manager fees due to lost construction days. A change order for $2,591.43 adds pitch pockets to the incline lift posts at the sally port landing. A change order for $93.29 is an increase in construction manager fees for the pitch pockets addition. A change order for $4,354.90 involves excessive humidity in concrete and the sealer and adhesive needed in order to not void the warranty for carpets. Another change order for $156.77 is an increase in construction manager fees for the concrete work. Bids Public Works Director Bart Miller announced that widening the bid advertising for a 2016 chipper paid off. The city’s minimum bid was $9,000 and Miller said it was sold for $20,000 to a New Jersey company. The council also voted unanimously to accept low bids of $19,465.20 from Chemtrac of Norcross, Ga. for a streaming current monitor for the water treatment plant and $12,174 from Central Equipment of Lexington for a salt spreader. A sole bid of $512 by Larry Walton for a surplus 2005 Ford Explorer was also unanimously approved. Cigarette receptacles Dake told the council that an application to Bluegrass Greensource for a $2,500 cigarette butt abatement grant was successful. She said the cost of the cigarette receptacles varies, but estimated the grant would pay for 20 of them to be installed in public areas around the county. Other, free receptacles will be offered to local businesses, she said. The grant application was funded by local business owner Alex K. Mason, Dake said after the meeting.