Council reverses course on U-Haul
The Versailles City Council Monday unanimously passed a resolution that
could pave the way for U-Haul to offer indoor, climate-controlled
storage in the old Kmart building in the Lexington Road Plaza.
The resolution asks the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and
Zoning Commission to research the matter, hold a public hearing and
recommend whether climate-controlled indoor storage facilities should be
added as a conditional use in highway business district (B-4)-zoned
The city council and U-Haul have been at odds over the issue since the
company purchased the property in 2017 and the question over whether to
allow the storage units there has been raised in several meetings. In
June 2018, the council unanimously endorsed a resolution asking the
Board of Adjustment to reject U-Haul’s bid to bring the storage units here.
The resolution included the statement, “ … Whereas, permanent economic
shifts have altered the retail industry …” After the meeting, Mayor
Brian Traugott said that sentence was related to the effects of the
pandemic on the retail industry, and that he thought some of the changes
would be permanent.
The council can choose to accept the planning commission’s
recommendation or hold its own hearings – ultimately, whether to make a
text amendment is its own decision.
Rankin new fire chief
The council unanimously confirmed Traugott’s nomination of T.A. Rankin
to be the city’s fire chief.
Traugott said Rankin, 35, a sergeant with the Frankfort Fire Department
and the chief deputy in the Woodford County coroner’s office, was born
and raised here and is a county resident. He’ll start the new job April
19 and acting Fire Chief Brandon Brown will be his assistant. Several
council members praised Brown for his service after taking over from
former Chief Brian Wainscott, and Traugott said Brown had served with
integrity and done a remarkable job.
Garmon asks for payroll tax refund
Woodford County Treasurer Sabra Garmon appeared before the council to
ask for a refund of the city payroll taxes withheld from her paycheck
since she began working from home during the pandemic. Garmon said her
request to the city tax administrator was denied and that she was there
Both the City of Versailles and Woodford County have 1.5 percent payroll
City Attorney Bill Moore said Garmon was raising a very interesting
issue. He said an emergency order from Gov. Andy Beshear had led to many
people working from home. He said there were probably many Versailles
residents who work in Lexington, and the city has not tried to collect
those taxes and that the matter was an executive decision, not one for
the council. Councilmember Fred Siegelman asked if it was Moore’s
recommendation that the council take no action and Moore said yes.
No action was taken.
Pandemic relief update
Councilmember Laura Dake said Bluegrass Community Action, which
administers the city’s program designed to help people with delinquent
rent and utility bills, had distributed $47,721.57. Councilmember Lisa
Johnson said 131 of 142 people had successfully applied for assistance –
92 percent – and more than 358 individuals had been helped, which she
The council also unanimously approved a resolution to apply for up to
$200,000 in community development block grant funds from the federal
Housing and Urban Development Department. A required public hearing by
the council will be held Tuesday, April 20, at 5 p.m. and be hosted by
the Bluegrass Area Development District.
Public Works Director Bart Miller later said he’d learned of a new
pandemic assistance program – the Healthy At Home Eviction Relief Fund –
and that a link to it was on the city’s website: versailles.ky.gov.
Traugott received the council’s unanimous go-ahead to apply for a
$100,000 grant from Kubota, which makes lawn, farm and construction
equipment. He said if the city wins, they could use the money to move
dirt and remove junk vegetation from the space between the Rose Hill
Avenue parking lot and Park Street.
Dake asked if the money could be used to pay for a portion of the design
work there and Traugott said he believed it could be piggy-backed with
the developer. Johnson said a small percentage of the funds should go to
developing the proposal and that the council should come up with a plan.
The council unanimously approved low bids by Grubbs Excavating of
Versailles to demolish houses at 301 Russell Avenue ($6,600) and 207
Russell Avenue ($7,400). The houses were previously condemned by the
council and liens were put on the properties to pay for the work.
Restaurant tax meeting April 13
The council will hold a public hearing via Facebook Live on a proposed
restaurant tax next Tuesday, April 13, at 5:30. Information on the
proposal, which would use the funds raised by the tax for
tourism-related and other projects, was included in the most recent city
water bills and customers (and others) were asked to comment by emailing
Traugott at firstname.lastname@example.org.