Wednesday, March 3, 2010

City council wants legislature to raise Midway's official classification by one notch

Midway will ask the Kentucky General Assembly to raise the city's classification by one level, a move that would give it more authority and put it on a par with the county seat of Versailles.

The Midway City Council passed a resolution Monday night to seek the change from fifth class to fourth class. Kentucky has six classes of cities; those in the first four classes have authority over alcohol regulations, such as Sunday sales. When Midway restaurants wanted to sell alcoholic beverages on Sundays, the decision was up to the Woodford County Fiscal Court, which delayed action until Versailles decided the question for itself.

City officials cited "increasing population and tourism appeal" as reasons for the change, Stephen Burnett writes in this week's edition of The Woodford Sun (not available online). "City Attorney Phil Moloney, reading the resolution, said the city is also seeking to promote economic development and increase employment," Burnett writes. Moloney cited the hoped-for development of Midway Station and expansion of Midway College. “Midway’s current classification as a city of the fifth class does not provide suitable framework for its continued and future economic growth and development," Moloney said.

The college's residential students are included in Midway's population, which was 1,620 (including 138 students) when the last census was taken almost exactly 10 years ago. The 2010 census figures won't be available for about a year. The population in 2000 was much less than the 3,000 minimum that the state constitution required for a fourth-class city before the General Assembly and the voters relaxed the requirements in 1994. Now, there are no specific population limits and the constitution says the legislature can also consider tax base, geography "or any other reasonable basis" in assigning a classification. However, an earlier statute, still on the books, says a city must submit population data to the legislature before being reclassified.

In a signed statement, Mayor Tom Bozarth and City Clerk Phyllis Hudson said they believe the city's population was undercounted in 2000 because it didn't include "residents living for the majority of the year on campus at Midway College," and that development of Midway Station and adjoining areas, and a nursing home, will give the city "a population in excess of 3,000 residents, and that a strong public purpose exists for reclassification." State Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, said in an interview that he will try to get the classification changed during the current legislative session, which is scheduled to end March 29.

In other business, the council delayed action on bids for sale of the old sewer plant, because Bozarth and council members Diana Queen and Aaron Hamilton were absent.

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