Thursday, September 10, 2015

Fiscal court skeptical of Vandegrift's proposed local-government summits, but mayor says he will persevere

By Kelly Brightmore and Nicholas Roush
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Despite skeptical comments Tuesday night from the Woodford County Fiscal Court, Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift says he will continue seeking two joint meetings each year among the court and the city councils of Midway and Versailles.

But that could take some time to come to fruition, if this week’s events are any indication. At Tuesday night’s court meeting, County Judge-Executive John Coyle appeared to dismiss the mayor’s proposal.

According to The Woodford Sun, Coyle said his office is always open to the mayors, “individually or together,” and he feels free to go to either of their offices. The Sun reported, “Coyle joked that he’d travel to Midway to eat with Vandegrift and down the street to eat with Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott and would tell them he’d, 'get back with you in a couple of years.'”

Vandegrift couldn’t attend the meeting because it was at the same time as the city council meeting, which was a day late due to Labor Day. He said in a telephone interview with the Midway Messenger that Coyle’s “sarcasm was disheartening,” but it won’t lead him to abandon the proposal.

Coyle told the Messenger in a phone interview at the same time Wednesday that his remark was purely in jest. “I didn’t pick up the phone today,” Coyle said, but insisted he will speak with both mayors and that the summit meetings are still a possibility.

Vandegrift isn’t the only city leader who likes the idea of the city-county joint meetings. Mayor Brian Traugott of Versailles had a positive reaction to the proposal as well, telling Vandegrift in a letter given to the Midway City Council that the proposal is a “wonderful idea that could reap great benefits.”

Vandegrift made the proposal in early August after release of a survey of Woodford County citizens' attitudes and opinions that showed "the people of Woodford County want to see the three governing bodies work better together," he said at the time.

Moving forward, Vandegrift said he will reach out to Coyle in order to further explain his proposal and he will speak to Midway Magistrate Linda Popp about getting it on the agenda for the next fiscal court meeting.

Vandegrift said it could be a big accomplishment to have community leaders discussing public issues and it could lead the county down a new road. Midway and Versailles have had frequent conflicts with the county, most recently over emergency management. Vandegrift said the proposal is important and exhibits “a new kind of politics.”

No comments: