Fire chief steps down; council passes budget
Mayor Brian Traugott told the Versailles City Council Tuesday that city Fire Chief Brian Wainscott had resigned his post effective July 1. Wainscott was hired in January 2015 after a career that began as a volunteer with the Versailles Fire Department before it had a full-time force. He rose to the rank of battalion chief with the Lexington Fire Department before taking the Versailles job. Traugott said Wainscott asked that his May 29 resignation letter be read to the council. Wainscott wrote, “Due to unfortunate life-changing events, I am submitting my retirement announcement. … I would like to thank the Firefighters and Officers of Versailles Fire for their dedication and hard work in building a well-respected Fire Department. … Their selfless service in supporting Versailles is unprecedented and most appreciated. I would like to thank you (Traugott), the Versailles City Council, and my fellow Department Directors for supporting Versailles Fire and our accomplishments. I wish you, the Council, Department Directors and their respective Departments and Versailles Fire personnel the very best in all of your future endeavors. I have been fortunate and honored to serve as Fire Chief.” In a May 29 email to city firefighters, Traugott said Wainscott would be using vacation time through July 1, praised his service and announced that he’d appointed Capt. Brandon Brown as acting fire chief. Tuesday, Brown took part in the council meeting, and later, his recommendation to accept Carroll Floor Covering’s bid of $5,705.39 to finish flooring work on the second level of Fire Station 2 on Big Sink Pike passed unanimously. Traugott told the council that Wainscott had made positive, long-lasting changes at the department. Wainscott’s departure was preceded by that of Ed Murner, his assistant chief, who announced his departure at the May 18 council meeting. On March 7, the Woodford Fire Protection District Board voted to dismiss County Fire Chief John Smith. Smith later sued the board, requesting that a judge order the district’s secretary to file a certified copy of the charges leading to his dismissal, the board’s judgment, and a transcript of its hearings on the matter. None of the three fire officials chose to comment on their departures to the Sun. Budget The Versailles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday for ordinances establishing the city’s general, enterprise (water and sewer) and road fund budgets for fiscal year 2020, which begins July 1. The general fund projects $10,384,015 in revenues, $10,631,429 in operating expenses, $470,690 in capital expenses and an ending balance of $5,765,746 – a deficit of $718,104. The enterprise fund projects $8,827,000 in revenues, $7,104,821 in operating expenses, $608,000 in capital expenses and a ending balance of $14,290,304 – a surplus of $1,114,179. The road fund projects $155,742 in revenues, $225,000 in operating expenses, and an ending balance of $100,742 – a deficit of $69,258. Before the votes on the fiscal ’21 budget, the council also unanimously passed an ordinance amending the general fund for ’20. Estimated revenues are $17,422,759; operating expenses are $11,701,501, and the ending balance is $6,483,850 – a deficit of $718,104. CARES Act funding The council unanimously passed an ordinance designed to make up to $670,000 in federal CARES Act funding available to city residents and businesses facing financial burdens due to COVID-19. Bluegrass Community Action will administer the program for individuals and city employees will do so for businesses. Eligible businesses must have a “brick and mortar” location within the city limits, fewer than 50 employees and be able to show decreased revenues because of restrictions set by Gov. Andy Beshear. Franchises are not eligible. Eligible citizens must own or rent a home in the city limits and show they’re late on rent, mortgage or utility payments due to COVID-19. The program will be administered by a municipal order, which Traugott said he hopes will be ready for a vote June 15. Downtown street closures Councilmember Ken Kerkhoff, who chairs the council’s Downtown and Tourism Committee, asked Maria Bohanan, the Woodford Tourist Commission chair active with several other civic groups, to describe a plan to help downtown restaurants. Bohanan suggested closing Court Street and a portion of North Street to vehicular traffic on weekends in order to create more outdoor seating opportunities. The Woodford Public Health Department would be consulted about spacing and other issues, she said. Woodford Judge-Executive James Kay approved of the Court Street closure and would see that parked cars are moved by 4 p.m. each Friday, Bohanan said. In response to a question from Councilmember Gary Jones, Bohanan said she envisioned the closures ending by September at the latest. Traugott noted the proposed North Street closure involves just one restaurant, Taqueria Becerra. Councilmember Laura Dake asked whether Bohanan thought the Court and North streets closure hours should be uniform. Bohanan said yes, and motions to close Court Street and a portion of North Street from 5 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Sunday passed unanimously. COVID-19 resolution The council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing Traugott to request reimbursements for COVID-19-related expenses with the state Department of Local Government. Code enforcement officer Traugott announced that had hired Rock Vance as the city’s part-time code enforcement officer and that Vance would begin work next week – just in time for the many nuisance reports he said were pouring in.