Council hears 911 property fee rates, discusses COVID-19
The Midway City Council Monday held a first reading Monday on an ordinance that would add a fee to property tax bills in order to fund county 911 services. (The Versailles City Council did the same the following night, and Woodford Fiscal Court is expected to hold a first reading on the ordinance at its next meeting. All three bodies must pass the ordinance for it to take effect.) The ordinance was read after Mayor Grayson Vandegrift convened the “public hearing” portion of the meeting. He noted that, including the news media, there were 10 people in the council chambers, with no unofficial attendees, but that the meeting was live-streamed on the city’s Facebook page. Vandegrift said he’d been accepting public comments on the 911 service fee via email and had only received two, both of which were from former council members supportive of the plan. Former Councilmember Johnny Wilson asked if the fee would be added to county and city tax bills. Vandegrift responded that it will be administered by the Woodford Sheriff’s Office and not the city. The Midway council meeting was the first time that the fee structure on anything other than private residences – $59 annually for each residential address (which includes apartments) – was disclosed. The other fees, which would be adjusted annually by the consumer price index, are: $59 for public service properties and each bourbon barrel warehouse $118 for businesses with less than 50,000 square feet of gross floor space $350 for businesses with more than 50,000 square feet of gross floor space $225 for public school buildings $540 for government buildings $1,350 for private universities The ordinance also creates a 911 Board with the Versailles police chief as chair and a representative from the following agencies: Sheriff’s Office; Emergency Medical Services; the Woodford County, Versailles and Midway fire departments; Coroner’s Office; Emergency Management; Animal Control; and a citizen appointed by the mayor. The 911 Board will also hire an executive director and form a subcommittee to hear and determine appeals by property owner. Failure to pay the 911 service fee would be a civil offense The ordinance also does away with the $3.50 per month fee on landline telephones that presently funds 911 services – a figure that has declined as more people use cell phones only. Before the reading, Vandegrift said he’d discussed the matter with Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott and Woodford Judge-Executive James Kay and they agreed that despite the COVID-19 situation, they need to continue pushing the ordinance. “We think times like now are exactly why we need 911,” he said. COVID-19 briefing Woodford Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler began the meeting with a 30-minute briefing on actions taken by the local and state governments to deal with COVID-19. (He gave the same presentation Tuesday at the Versailles City Council; most of those details are in that story on the back page.) Councilmember Stacy Thurman asked if there had been any confirmed cases in Woodford County. Chandler said no, but issued a note of caution: “There’s a general consensus that it is here, but that person just hasn’t been tested.” Parking spaces The council unanimously approved a motion authorizing city workers to install signs on downtown parking spots setting aside at least three spaces apiece for restaurants offering curbside pick-up. Another section set aside for delivery vehicles is a former no-parking area between The Goose and Gander and Mezzo Italian Café that did have bicycle racks. Vandegrift said the bike racks have been removed. At the end of the meeting, several councilmembers encouraged citizens to support the city’s restaurants, which are now limited to curbside pick-up and delivery, and to tip servers well. Councilmember John Holloway said, “Go walk in the park. There’ve been hordes of people in the park.” The meeting ended with attendees using disinfectant wipes to clean the chairs and surfaces they’d been using.