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City Council Debates Salaries

The Morgantown City Council spent a lengthy meeting Thursday night on the condition of softball fields, discussion of mayoral and council salaries, and an update on the city website.
 
Kim Cunningham of the Butler County Girls Softball League addressed the Council.  After informing the Council that the Softball League voted not to take over concessions at softball games, Cunningham gave a list of repairs and safety issues at the city park ball field used by the Softball League; the dugouts, electric boxes, and storage building need repairs; new bleachers are needed; and the field needs about three loads of dirt.  Mayor Linda Keown said bleacher plans are on her desk.  Council member Terrell House said the Boy Scouts are about to paint the dugouts.  House and Cunningham agreed that safety issues need attention first, and Council members House, Dionne Merritt, and Russell Givens volunteered to monitor the ball field needs  Cunningham stated that a record high 87 girls are signed up to play this year and asked if the League could also use an upper field that currently is not being regularly used.  Council member Gary Southerland concurred, and the Council approved the request.
 
The Council deliberated over salaries for the mayor and council without a conclusion.  House brought up a list he had passed out of what other cities pay their mayor and council members.  Council member Allen Meredith remarked that Morgantown was “on the high side” compared to what other cities pay their elected officials.  House, who said he was fulfilling a promise to bring this issue up again, asked “Are you doing this for the money?” and that serving the city should be about “being good stewards.”  Council member Sharon Johnson countered that she couldn’t speak about the workload of other cities but “we have a lot to do.”  Merritt, citing the Kentucky League of Cities book, concluded that “we are an entity recruiting industry full time.”  Southerland stated “I could care less what other cities pay,” prompting a “me, too” from Givens.  Mayor Keown cited her workload and irregular hours.  House countered that “the mayor’s duties are the mayor’s duties” and the discussion should not be about full time or part time work.  He said that past mayors such as Charles Black worked other jobs.  Meredith recommended that elected officials’ pay should be cut by one-third.  According to law, any such change would have to be made by May 5 with two readings of an ordinance and publishing of the new ordinance.  The Council decided to postpone action until the April meeting.
 
Josh Hampton of Yellowberri gave a presentation on the overhead monitor of the working prototype of the new city website.  Hampton showed the design and content layers and said that maintenance for the city would be “super simple.”  Reaction was positive, and the Council decided to tentatively meet with Yellowberri on March 18 to quickly move forward on the website.
 
Bruce White of the Boys and Girls Club addressed the Council with a request for $12,500 for the coming year, saying he made an identical request last Monday of the Fiscal Court.  White passed out his Director’s Report and the club’s financial report, and he told of the Club’s upcoming fundraiser March 22 at Cool Springs Church.  Action will take place at a later meeting.
 
The Council approved by a 6-0 roll call vote the 1st reading of an amendment to the political sign ordinance.  Danny Cardwell of the Planning and Zoning Board told the meeting that the primary changes were the removal of the security deposit for political signs and the separation of non-profit and special event signs from the ordinance.
 
Mayor Keown and Council member House both talked about the repairs being made to the wall on Robbie McKinney’s property that was falling onto US 231.  House added that McKinney gave permission to also use his property for sidewalks for the US 231 Project.  Keown reported on upcoming city park preparation, a planned cleanup by volunteers of the Bell Cemetery, barking and unleashed dog complaints, and cleanup letters that have been sent to residents not in compliance with city ordinances.  Keown praised the Maintenance Department for its cleanup efforts during the recent snows.
 
In other business, the Council approved the 1st reading of an amendment to the current budget to change the forwarding balance and the city’s budgeted contribution to the Industrial Holding Corporation.  The Council chose April 24-26 as the dates for City Cleanup Week and said they needed to coordinate with county government as they did last year.

 Story by Don Thomason, Beech Tree News

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