Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Woman's Club building poses legal issues for city; committee meeting canceled again

The City of Midway may have to file a friendly lawsuit to resolve questions about the Midway Woman's Club building, which the Woman's Club wants to give to the city under the terms of the 1952 bequest that gave the club the house at 230 N. Gratz St.

City Attorney Phil Moloney told the city council Monday night that the bequest provided that if the building was not maintained, it would go to the city in perpetual trust as a place for community gatherings. Moloney said the law does not allow a bequest to impose an obligation on the city, so he said the council should consider filing a friendly suit against the club and the unknown heirs of the woman who made the bequest, so it could take possession of the property, sell it and use the proceeds for the intended purpose -- perhaps to improve the upstairs of City Hall to provide meeting space.

"As I understand it, the City of Midway is not interested in taking over that house," because it would need improvements and upkeep, Moloney said. Council Member Dan Roller said the city has many more meeting places than it did in 1952, and "There's a lot of different needs in the community." After Council Member Grayson Vandegrift said he doubted that anyone would buy the building for use as a home, Roller noted that it has no shower or bath.

Mayor Tom Bozarth said the next move is up to the Woman's Club, which might be able to locate heirs who could inherit the property if a court modified the deed.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the special committee Bozarth named to study the idea of accepting the building has been canceled again. It had been scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. No new date has been announced.

Iron Horse date set, financial authority debated

Among other business, the council agreed to set Oct. 12 as the date for the next Iron Horse Half Marathon. Organizer Chuck Griffis said the Bourbon Chase relay race, which has been going through Midway and is expected to again, will conclude the previous day.

As the meeting was about to adjourn, Council Member Bruce Southworth made a motion that council approval be required for any unbudgeted expenses exceeding $1,000. He cited the recent auditor's report, which recommended that a limit be placed on purchase orders that the mayor can sign on his own.

Bozarth said, "Any large items we don't budget for would be brought before the council." Southworth asked, "Would it be that much of a burden?" Bozarth replied, "It must be a burden for you," and clarified what the auditor had recommended. Southworth responded, "I would just like to know where the money's at." Southworth joined the council in January and has raised several financial issues at council meetings.

Vandegrift said he could see the value of a limit on one-signature purchase orders, but "I don't want to impose on Tom." After more discussion, during which Southworth's motion was not seconded, Bozarth said he thought the motion was out of order, and said he would refer the issue to "the finance committee." Vandegrift, who also joined the council in January, asked, "We don't have a finance committee, do we?" Bozarth said he was referring to "Sharon's committee," the Cemetery, City Property and Ordinance/Policy Committee, chaired by Council Member Sharon Turner.

Finally, the council adopted a motion by Council Member Aaron Hamilton to cancel the regular council meeting scheduled for Dec. 16. That makes the council's next regular meeting Jan. 6. The council meets at 5:30 p.m. on first and third Mondays.

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