Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Council wants to tweak snow-removal deal; city looks for private contractors to do narrow streets

By Cody Porter, Morgan Rhodes, Alex Ruf and Kristen Vinson
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Midway City Council members decided Monday night that a few changes were necessary before they would approve a memorandum of agreement with Woodford County for snow and ice treatment and removal. They also saw a map of streets that the county won't handle, and heard that other help is being recruited for those streets this year and perhaps the whole city for the next fiscal year.

“The memorandum will get us through this year,” said Mayor Tom Bozarth, “but next time we need to have a better understanding of our options.” On Jan. 11, shortly before a snowfall, Midway city officials learned that the county would no longer remove snow in Midway, leaving the city little time to assess alternative options. Officials made a temporary agreement for the city to reimburse the county for its costs of labor, equipment and materials. The memorandum would formalize the agreement.

The proposed agreement, prepared by County Attorney Alan George, refers to Midway's recent rise in status to a city of the fourth class, which County Judge-Executive John Coyle said was the reason for ending the free service. Several council members said they wanted those references removed.

“I don’t understand why we don’t just have a basic understanding,” said Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Turner. She also suggested, and her fellow council members agreed, that a clause should be added stating that the city or county could terminate the agreement on 30 days written notice. City Attorney Phil Moloney will take the requests to county officials.

The county cannot treat all the streets in Midway because many are too narrow, with limited turnaround or backup space. However, private contractors may be available for these roads, or for the entire city, if the council decides not to continue the agreement with the county.

City Attorney Phil Moloney, Mayor Tom Bozarth hold street map
Council Member Aaron Hamilton, chairman of the Streets Committee, said, “We will have to know which way we are going to go before the next budget,” which the council must adopt by July 1, the start of the 2012-13 fiscal year. Hamilton and Bozarth assured members that the issue is being worked on. Bozarth produced a map marking the roads the county would and would not be able to handle.

Although the council members were in general agreement about the memorandum, they questioned the cost of the service. “What is the county paying for salt? How much are they paying for labor costs?” said Arnold. “We need more information from the county so Midway can appropriately pay for snow removal in the budget. . . . If we're going to be paying for this, I would think that we would need to know by the fiscal year what the county was going to be paying for salt and what the employee rate per hour would be so that we could realistically compare the cost” with private contractors.

Later, Hamilton said that for a snow of one to three inches removed by the county, salt would cost $468.84 and removal would cost $225, at total of almost $700 for 1.14 lane miles of streets.

Other business

The council agreed to let Midway again be the fiscal agent for a grant being sought for a third time by Woodford County’s Drug Free Communities program. The most frequently used drugs in Woodford County are alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs, M.E. Kobes of the Bluegrass Prevention Center told the council.

Among the other guest speakers at the meeting was Midway resident Brad McLean, chairman of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority. After he mentioned possible business locations and expansions, and specified one in Versailles, Bozarth asked him what the EDA was doing for Midway. McLean said the EDA was looking into a building owned by the Gibson Corp. on Brand Street and with the help of real-estate agents would put the property on the EDA website.

Toward the end of the meeting, Bozarth said he hoped that in the next six months, the council could make the city's property-maintenance code stronger and improve the recycling program.

The council gave second reading and final passage to a revised alcohol licensing ordinance, and first reading to a related alcohol ordinance and a revised parking ordinance; second reading and final passage may occur at the next regular meeting, on Feb. 20.

The council scheduled a special meeting for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 17 to discuss candidates interested in occupying the council vacancy created by the resignation of Becky Moore. The deadline for applications is Feb. 15 at 2 p.m.

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