Midway Council passes 911 service fee
The Midway City Council Monday unanimously approved an ordinance designed to pay for 911 services county-wide by adding fees to property tax bills. (The following evening, the Versailles City Council also approved the measure and Woodford Fiscal Court is expected to follow suit next Tuesday.) The annual 911 service fee would cost $59 for each residential address (including apartments); $59 for public service properties (including churches) and bourbon barrel warehouses; $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; and $1,350 for private universities. The ordinance sets the stage for the creation of a 911 Board headed by the Versailles Police chief with representatives from each government and emergency service agencies. It will require an interlocal agreement between the three governments, Vandegrift said. The 911 Board would oversee operations and vote on whether to accept automatic annual rate changes determined by the consumer price index (CPI). The ordinance would do away with the $3.50 per month fee on landline phones that originally funded the program, but has declined as an increasing number of people use cell phones only. Early in the meeting, Vandegrift announced that he was having trouble live-streaming the meeting on Facebook and would have to post it later. (Several technical difficulties arose during the webcast.) Besides, he joked, everyone was watching Gov. Andy Beshear’s 5 p.m. address. Utility breaks for closed businesses Much of the meeting was devoted to a discussion about how broadly to craft a motion that would waive minimum garbage, sewer and water fees for downtown businesses closed due to COVID-19. Vandegrift said city clerk Sonya Conner had determined that waiving the combined minimum fees of $59.30 for 21 downtown businesses would cost the city $1,186 for one month, and twice that for two months. Councilmember John Holloway said, “This is a great thing to do,” and suggested extending the waivers to restaurants still operating. Councilmember Kaye Nita Gallagher said businesses applying for a loan from the Small Business Administration need to still be paying utility bills. Councilmember Bruce Southworth suggested applying the motion to all businesses. Councilmember Stacy Thurman said she wanted to be fair, but called the proposal a good first step. Councilmember Logan Nance said any business open will exceed those minimums. Holloway said the city could afford to be generous and should consider including other businesses and Midway University. Nance made a motion to waive the minimums for the 21 downtown businesses for two months. Southworth said it needs to be broader. Several minutes of debate over whether to include other businesses, and Southworth’s suggestion that the motion include an amendment requiring the waiver for businesses added to the list at future council meetings ensued. In the end, a motion allowing the minimum fees to be waived for the 21 businesses for one month passed 5 to 0, with Southworth abstaining. Encroachment permit on hold A Windstream official appeared via Zoom to discuss the company’s desire to bury fiber cable on East Main Street. Albert Prah apologized for not having an engineer with him and was unable to answer questions about where the company planned to dig. Southworth said there were buried water and sewer lines on the side of the street in question. The council decided to wait until their next meeting, when they could get answers to those and other questions, before acting. Food drive Vandegrift said he’d spoken recently with Ambrose Wilson IV about a “heartbreaking scenario” – someone Wilson saw getting food from one of the city’s two blessing boxes who was embarrassed about being seen doing so. Vandegrift said Wilson wants to work with the council to help food-insecure people in a confidential manner and that he’d asked Nance to work with Wilson on the matter. Nance said Midway Baptist Church’s food bank has plenty of food, but needs mouths. He encouraged people who need food to call the church at 846-4514 and said the church would deliver the food. “Nobody should go hungry in Midway right now,” Nance said. Thurman said Midway Christian Church is still having community dinners, and that anyone can drive up and get them. Closing remarks Vandegrift said there were still no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Midway and attributed that to citizens following precautionary guidelines. Despite the success, people need to be prepared for the fact that there may be no large public events in Midway this year, he said. Free protective masks and hand sanitizer are still available at City Hall, he said.