Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Council deals with taxes, smoking, festivals, emergency services, encroachment issue

The Midway City Council kept the city's real-estate tax rate at 10.6 cents per $100 and heard first reading of a revised ordinance on the personal-property tax rate Monday night.

The council also passed a smoking-ban ordinance, to replace a county health department regulation that by all indications is in violation of the state constitution, under a June decision by the state Supreme Court.

Pending final approval on second reading, the property-tax rate will be 14 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, two cents less than last year, because the total valuation has gone up. The original draft ordinance had to be revised and delayed because of a clerical error.

The smoking ordinance bans smoking in public places, workplaces, city buildings and vehicles, the seating areas of any "arenas, stadiums and amphitheaters," and within "a reasonable distance of not less than three feet" from any windows or outside entrance of a place where the ordinance applies. For a PDF of the ordinance, and the tax-rate calculation, click here.

Kenny Smith, representing the Midway Fall Festival, asked the city to be a financial sponsor of the Sept. 20-21 event, "so that we're clear and on the record what we can expect from the city." Bozarth replied that there had never been any written agreement between the city and the merchants association, which sponsors the festival. He appointed Council Members Grayson Vandegrift, Dan Roller and Sharon Turner to meet with festival organizers.

The mayor said the festival should be treated like the Francisco's Farm Arts Festival, which returned to the Midway College campus this spring after three years at Equus Run Vineyards. He noted that the fall festival has paid vendors' license fees for two years (under a relatively new ordinance passed after Francisco's Farm left town). "Francisco's Farm has been sent a bill, and I don't know if we've ever received payment," he said.

Council Member Sara Hicks is the president of Midway Renaissance, the main sponsor of Francisco's Farm. She said after the meeting that the $1,800 bill came as a surprise and was incorrectly calculated because at least 10 of the 90 "vendors" at the two-day festival were actually sponsors with booths. Hicks said the difference in the two festivals is that the fall event is on "the streets of downtown Midway," but "I'm sure something will be worked out."

Most of the discussion during the meeting was about Woodford County's unofficial cancellation of its agreement with Midway and Versailles to jointly finance emergency management services, following the cities' complaint that they are paying too much.

The agreement will expire 90 days after the county gives formal notice of the cancellation, EMS Director Keith Slugantz told the council. "I expected the public officials to work this out a long time ago. The public conflict has been between the county and Versailles; Bozarth said he had been unable to discuss it with county officials.

Vandegrift said he was surprised that the county was acting so abruptly. "The county has some reasonable claims," he said. "I think we do, too. I would like to see some kind of compromise." He said the fiscal court and city councils should meet to draft a revised agreement. Bozarth said that meeting needs to happen soon.

The council held a nine-minute closed session, citing the exception to the open-meetings law for discussion of proposed or pending litigation.

The council quickly disposed of the issue that got the most discussion at the last meeting, approving a revised encroachment permit for Jon Maybriar that allows him to keep the concrete he used instead of pavers. Bozarth noted that the city's engineer had a favorable opinion of the work.

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