Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Council to pay CSX $18,850 on Higgins water project, calls for 'extreme caution' on Versailles bypass design

By Megan Ingros, Kacie Kelly and Cameron Owens
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Midway City Council voted Monday night to pay CSX Railroad a surprising $18,850 for a license agreement and insurance on the Higgins Street water-line replacement project.

The council also scheduled the Iron Horse Half Marathon for Oct. 11, and passed a resolution calling for "careful consideration" of Midway's interests in the state's design of a Versailles western bypass that could increase truck traffic on US 62.

The payment to CSX will include a $16,000 for a license agreement allowing the city to use railroad property for the project, which includes a loop line to eliminate problematic dead-end lines. The R.J. Corman Railroad Group operates the rail line but CSX still owns the railroad.

The "pretty hefty number" was a surprise, consulting engineer Chris Stewart told the council. "We knew there was going to be a cost," he said. "I didn’t think it was going to be quite that much." In past cases, CSX has charged a small annual fee, but now wants a lump sum, said Stewart and Council Member Bruce Southworth.

The city has a low-interest loan from the state for the $188,000 project, but with no project money left to cover the money for CSX, it will come from the city's water fund. This year's water budget is $1.3 million, mostly for purchasing water from Kentucky American Water Co.

The rest of the payment is for insurance. CSX requires a $5 million liability policy, and Midway has a $3 million policy.

The project is the first of what may be a series of improvements to Midway's water lines, replacing them slowly over time. Higgins Street Project is being tackled now because the dead-end lines are prone to leaks and sediment buildup, resulting in bad water.

Council Member Libby Warfield abstained from voting because she lives on Higgins Street. "This is a great benefit for me," she said. "We've had 24 years of bad water."

The city also hopes to get a state loan to repair sewer lines that allow water to leak in, burdening the system. Stewart said the original plan was to seek $670,000 for the Brand Street sewer, but said the problem there is likely being caused by leaky sewer lines that feed into it. He said he had prepared an application for $420,000 to use cameras and smoke and dye tests to find leaks, including $150,000 for sending a camera up residents' lateral lines that feed the city's line.

"You're probably going to find that's where a lot of problems are, but that's a touchy issue," because the lateral lines are private property, he said. The council still has the opportunity to decide against lateral launching. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said.

The council granted the Iron Horse Half Marathon a permit to use city streets for its sixth race on Sunday, Oct. 11. Warfield suggested that the race be run on Sunday. "Thank God you have eighteen hundred people who can run the race," she told organized Chuck Griffis. "why can't you consider doing this on Saturday rather than Sunday?"

Griffis said most marathons and half-marathons run on Sundays because vehicular traffic is lighter. Warfield replied, "You’re running on our two main roads that are all horse farms, and horse farms go seven days a week." After more conversation, Griffis said he knows from two shorter Saturday races that use Spring Station Road, which is part of the Iron Horse course, that traffic on the road is heavier on Saturdays.

With little discussion, the council approved a resolution offered by Vandegrift calling for "extreme caution and careful consideration" in the design of a western bypass of Versailles, formally called the Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor. One of the three alternates for the road's intersection with US 60 is the US 60-62 junction, which would "substantially increase the amount of tractor-trailer and vehicle usage" on US 62, Midway Road, the resolution says.

The resolution, to be sent to state officials, says Midway Road "is a narrow, two-lane road with little or no shoulders . . . already over-utilized by tractor-trailers," and in Midway is "lined with residences where children play and residents walk to school, church and downtown."

In a nod to the problems Versailles has with downtown traffic, the resolution says "The City of Midway recognizes the autonomy of the City of Versailles, and does wish to inhibit its right to relieve and regulate any traffic issues, safety and quality-of-life considerations relating thereto."

Council Member Sara Hicks called the resolution "nice . . . not too heavy-handed." Vandegrift said city attorney Phil Moloney toughened up his draft.

The council also decided to advertise for bids in interest rates for financing approximately half of the purchase price of the new fire truck.

At the conclusion of the meeting there was a closed session to discuss the sale or purchase of real property. No action was taken, Vandegrift said.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Council committee to continue fire-truck discussions

The City Finance, Ordinance and Policy Committee of the Midway City Council will meet at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 16, at City Hall to review financing options for the new fire truck. All committee and council meetings are open to the public.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Council to meet at 8 a.m. Monday to discuss payment schedule for new fire truck, what to do with old one

The Midway City Council will hold a special meeting at 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 12 at City Hall to discuss payment options for the new fire truck and the future of the old fire truck.

The packet sent to the council with information about those matters can be downloaded as a PDF  here. All council and council-committee meetings are open to the public.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New council meets; Southworth is mayor pro tem, chair of public works committee; Roller heads two panels

The new Midway City Council met for the first time Monday night and organized itself and city government for the new two-year term.

Council Member Bruce Southworth was elected mayor pro tem, and will serve as mayor when new Mayor Grayson Vandegrift is absent. Vandegrift was elected in November for a four-year term as mayor over fellow council member Sharon Turner, who had been mayor pro tem for six years. By tradition, the pro-tem post goes to the council member who got the most votes in the last election.

The council has three new members: Steven Craig, Kaye Nita Gallagher and Libby Warfield. They join Southworth, Dan Roller and Sara Hicks. Vandegrift named Roller to chair two of the four year-round committees he created. He named Southworth, a former Versailles city administrator and Midway sewage-treatment plant operator, to head the Public Works and Services Committee. Vandegrift appointed these members (chairs named first):
  • Finance, Ordinance and Policy: Roller, Hicks, Southworth
  • Public Works and Services: Southworth, Gallagher, Roller
  • Cemetery and City Property: Hicks, Warfield, Craig
  • Blighted Property: Roller, Warfield, Hicks
Vandegrift also put Gallagher and Craig on a committee to handle this year's Memorial Day service. The council re-elected Phyllis Hudson as city clerk-treasurer and Diane Shepard as assistant clerk. At the end of the short meeting, the council turned to the Midway Messenger camera:
Left to right: Gallagher, Hicks, Southworth, city attorney Phil Moloney, Vandegrift, Roller, Shepard, Warfield, Craig.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Midway student from Georgetown wins her class's clinical award; Austin Bowman gets freshman award

Christina Martin
Christina Martin of Georgetown, who received her nursing degree from Midway College this month, is the winner of her class's Clinical Award. The award is given to a student who maintains a grade-point average above 3.0 and is able to effectively translate classroom theory to safe and competent clinical practice at the bedside, according to a college news release.

"Christina's performance in clinical practice is excellent and demonstrates critical thinking, intuition and utilizes nursing knowledge," said Dr. Barbara Kitchen, dean of the college's School of Health and Sciences. "She also exhibits a high level of integrity, provides relationship-centered care, utilizes clinical judgment and integrates best evidence into practice."

Midway College offers associate and bachelor's degrees in nursing on its campus in traditional daytime and accelerated evening formats that prepare students to become registered nurses in a variety of clinical settings, the news release said.

Austin Bowman of Midway won the college's Outstanding Freshman Award for December 2014. The award is presented to an exceptional freshman nursing student who has embraced the field with a passion. Recipients must maintain a grade-point average above 3.0, exhibit a high level of integrity, demonstrate a spirit of inquiry, be a compassionate and therapeutic communicator, and be professional in attitude behavior and appearance.

Dr. Barbara Kitchen, Dean of Midway's School of Health and Science, says Bowman exhibits these traits and more: "Austin has been outstanding in the clinical area by always being a team player and demonstrating an eagerness to learn. He has a great rapport with his peers and quietly leads by example."

Monday, December 22, 2014

Ordinance allowing Midway Station redevelopment with tax-increment financing passes; county action next

The Midway City Council gave final approval Monday morning to the ordinance that will allow redevelopment of Midway Station by paying for public infrastructure improvements with the increased tax revenue from the development.

Approval came quickly, as soon as city attorney Phil Moloney read the lengthy title of the complicated tax-increment financing ordinance. All five council members present voted for it; Sara Hicks was absent.
Council members raise hands to vote for TIF as attorney Moloney, Mayor Bozarth and City Clerk Phyllis Hudson look on.
The TIF ordinance authorizes 80 percent of the new property and payroll taxes generated at Midway Station (not including school and fire taxes) to be used to pay the estimated $31 million cost of redeveloping its public infrastructure: parking areas, streets, sidewalks, utilities and so on, as well as the associated costs of demolishing the existing infrastructure, which was designed for an industrial park.

The park has generated only about 10 jobs, leaving the city and Woodford County with $4.7 million remaining in debt from the $6 million in bonds issued for purchase of the property and its development.

Lexington developer Dennis Anderson is paying the $11,400 monthly interest on the bonds in return for an option to buy and develop the property as commercial and residential, under an agreement with the property owner, the Woodford County Economic Development Authority.

Some of the property, and an adjoining tract on which EDA has an option, was recently rezoned back to industrial to help attract one or more industrial prospects, such as a supplier plant for the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Corp. complex at Georgetown.
Optioned tract recently zoned industrial is white outlined in purple. Area earlier rezoned industrial for prospective factory is mainly yellow outlined in purple. Area in solid purple has been zoned industrial since original development of Midway Station.
County Judge-Executive John Coyle said recently that he expects the county fiscal court to join with the city in applying to the state for approval of the TIF district, which would funnel county taxes to it as well as city taxes and state property taxes.

Anderson has said he has secured private financing for what would be a $126 million project, with development lasting as long as 20 years, the maximum life of a TIF district. His consultants estimate that the project will generate $94 million in tax revenue over 20 years.

Under the ordinance, the mayor will be primarily responsible for overseeing the TIF district and its finances. Midway will get a new mayor on Jan. 1, one-term Council Member Grayson Vandegrift, replacing Mayor Tom Bozarth, who did not seek re-election to a third four-year term.

"Thank you very much," Bozarth said as he adjourned his last meeting as mayor. "It's been a pleasure and a joy. Hallelujah."

Council Member Bruce Southworth told Vandegrift after the ordinance passed, "Here's the ball; it's the handoff."

Vandegrift told reporters after the meeting that TIF appeared to be the only way to get Midway Station off dead center. He said he doubted that a developer would be available without such incentives.

"The only disagreement I heard from people about the TIF [district] was a philosophical disagreement as to whether taxpayer money should be used in this way," he said, adding that was a question for state legislators, who passed the law allowing it.

Asked if the city would have approved TIF if it were not on the hook for half of the bonded indebtedness, he said, "I'm sure it had something to do with it."

He added later, "The fear is, if we let this go down, it is just going to sit there for another 20 years. . . . I don't know of anybody who doesn't want Midway Station to do something . . . especially given the fact of how much money we owe."

Vandegrift concluded, "This whole Midway Station thing has been a long, really, nightmare. We've got a chance to get it moving. . . . This is going to be the kind of slow, sustainable growth that we're looking for."

Friday, December 19, 2014

Council gives first reading to tax-increment financing for redevelopment of Midway Station; passage set Monday

By Nicole Hennard
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The Midway City Council had a special meeting Wednesday morning to give first reading to the tax-increment financing ordinance for Midway Station, after delays in production of documents prevented action at Monday's regular meeting.

Attorney Doug Martin and his law partner, city attorney Phil Moloney, presented a package of documents, some of which are posted online with the proposed ordinance. They included a development area description and map; a development plan; a pending interlocal cooperation agreement with Woodford County, which is expected to participate in the TIF district; a Local Participation Agreement between the city and Anderson Communities Inc., the Lexington developer that is paying the $11,400 monthly interest on the $4.7 million in bonds still outstanding on the property in return for the option to buy it; a master development agreement between the city and the developer; and a report from Anderson's consultant, Commonwealth Economics, forecasting the progress of development and generation of tax revenue.

Eighty percent of the additional property- and payroll-tax revenue created by the development will be dedicated to reimbursing Anderson $31.5 million for development of public infrastructure and payment of fees to create the TIF district.

Martin said the investments in the project will total $126 million and are expected to take place over a 20-year period. The project is expected to support over 4,000 jobs annually and have $7 billion in statewide economic impact.

“Any new taxes that flow from the area will be allocated to infrastructure, administrative costs, and redevelopment assistance related to the development area,” Martin said. “The report estimates that over a 20-year period, the project will generate approximately $93.8 million in tax revenue.”

The documents make clear that the office of the mayor is the agency responsible for oversight, administration and implementation of the ordinance and special fund. The ordinance is being passed shortly before mayor elect Grayson Vandegrift’s term begins at the start of the new year.

The council scheduled a special meeting for Monday, Dec. 22, at 8:30 a.m. to give second reading and passage of the ordinance.

The ordinance was drafted after months of discussion with the Woodford County Economic Development Authority (the land owner) and developer Dennis Anderson, who is paying the interest on the bonds that financed development of the industrial park (which has largely failed).

Included in the ordinance is a requirement that the city receive 2 percent of the fund’s disbursements to cover administrative costs. The council questioned whether that would be enough to cover such expenses as legal and accounting fees. Martin said that if the 2 percent was not adequate, the city would be reimbursed from the special fund.

Council Member Sharon Turner questioned who would establish the special fund. Martin said the office of the mayor would be in charge.

Council Member Bruce Southworth questioned whether the engineering review costs would be considered administrative. Martin and Moloney agreed that it would.

The city council will be responsible for reviewing and analyzing the process of the development from year to year.

The meeting concluded with a statement from Mayor Tom Bozarth: “We’ll meet Monday and move this along.”