Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Raise gets first reading; Simoff says proposed council pay should be halved; 'Old Smoky' could still come

Member John McDaniel seemed
dressed for the occasion as the
council proposed a pay raise.
The Midway City Council gave first reading Monday night to an ordinance that would give the mayor and council elected next year big pay increases, but one council member said he would try to cut the council's proposed salary in half.

The long-discussed plan would raise the mayor's annual pay to $12,000 from $1,200, and the council's $600 salary to $4,800 a year. In monthly terms, the mayor would go from $100 to $1,000, and the council would go from $50 to $400.

Council Member Steve Simoff said he would propose at the next meeting, on Aug. 7, that the council members elected in November 2018 be paid $200 a month, or $2,400 a year. "We're all doing it for fifty dollars right now," Simoff said. "I just want everybody to kind of think about it."

There was no response to Simoff's suggestion. Council Member Libby Warfield, who has been the one most publicly skeptical of the proposal, was not in attendance.

Proponents of the raise have said it is long overdue and the council and mayor are badly underpaid, especially in light of the the increased responsibilities they have as Midway grows and Midway Station develops. The council could vote to enact the raises at the next meeting. For a copy of the proposed ordinance, click here.

The caboose is near the Corman track.
Locomotive needs financial fuel: Council Member John McDaniel announced that the R.J. Corman Railroad Group still has a grant available to place its "Old Smoky" steam locomotive in Midway. Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said the grant is for $180,000 but the cost of the project is estimated at $250,000, so the city and Corman would have to raise private money.

Vandegrift said the Corman family wants the locomotive "displayed prominently downtown," in a see-through enclosure like the one it once had in Lexington, so the likely location is where a Corman caboose now sits, at the east end of the United Bank parking lot. Placing it there will require a retaining wall and an easement on the adjoining property, he said.

The mayor said after the meeting that a possible new location for the caboose would be the hill above the intersection of Leestown Road (US 421) and Georgetown Road (KY 341), which intersects with Interstate 64, so it would greet traffic coming into town from the freeway and remind visitors of Midway's status as the first Kentucky town founded by a railroad.

Lakeshore sign and jobs: The council voted to ask the county Planning and Zoning Commission to amend its industrial-sign ordinance in a way that would allow Lakeshore Learning Materials to have a proportionally sized sign for the distribution center it is building in Midway Station.

Vandegrift said the size limit on industrial signs is 300 square feet, which "would be a dwarf sign on a five hundred thousand square-foot building." The change would remove the absolute limit but keep the ordinance's maximum of one square foot of sign for each lineal foot of building frontage. He said he had discussed the change with Planning Director Pattie Wilson and expects the commission to make the recommendation and send it back to the council for final approval.
Photo illustration shows how Lakeshore's sign would look if the industrial-sign ordinance is changed to allow it.
Lakeshore official Paul Chisholm showed the council a rendering of how the 40-foot-wide sign would look on the 575-foot-wide building. Asked about outside lighting, he said it would come from light-emitting diodes, directed downward, to limit light pollution.

Chisholm said work is on schedule and the company expects to get an occupancy permit Aug. 4 and begin the interview and hiring process there. The schedule calls for the plant to be active on Sept. 29 and make its first shipments in early November. It is expected to employ 262 people after two years.

Electric-car charging: The council agreed to reserve two spaces at the back corner of the City Hall parking lot for an electric-vehicle charging station to be installed at no cost to the city by Kentucky Utilities. Vandegrift said KU had already picked Midway to be one of 20 towns with such stations. The council also authorized him to sign a memorandum of understanding with KU.

Council Member Sara Hicks, who had pushed the idea, said it would attract new visitors to town and generate business because "They'll have to sit around for an hour" while their vehicles charge. Vandegrift said, "It's just the next step in becoming a greener city."

Other business: The council accepted a series of bids for surplus equipment, the largest sale being $350, bid by Thomas Walton for a 5-by-10-foot trailer. Brian Boettcher got a 1990 Ford Ranger truck for $250 and Simoff got a 1994 Jeep Cherokee for $186. He abstained on the vote. Council Member Bruce Southworth was among four bidders for the trailer. For the bids and the rest of the council's meeting packet, click here.

The council also approved an event permit for the "Hope for Tomorrow" 5-kilometer and 1-mile races on Nov. 4, and an encroachment permit for 216 Higgins St.

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