City Council Rescindes Speed Limit Changes, Hears from Auditor, and Considers Boys & Girls Club Request
The Morgantown City Council devoted most of Thursday night’s meeting to a funding request from the Boys and Girls Club and a reassessment of the speed limits they set at last month’s meeting.
Bruce White, chairman of the Butler County Boys and Girls Club, addressed the Council and requested an increase in the city’s funding from $5,000 to $12,500. White stated that the Boys and Girls Club lost their director Debra Hall to Western Kentucky University and said “We knew we weren’t paying her enough.” The National Boys and Girls Club convinced the local 16-member board that they must pay their next director from $22,500 to $32,000 in order to retain a quality director, and White said the next director with need an “expertise in raising money.” White said the local Boys and Girls Club gets $8,400 from state government, $5,000 from the city, $2,500 from the county, around $6,000 to $7,000 from the Radio Auction, sporadic grant funding and donations from individuals and churches. Council member Russell Givens stated that the Council set aside a pool of funds to give all non-profit groups, and that approach “worked well.” He said when the Council sets the next budget, they will consider the Boys and Girls Club request when determining the size of the pool. Council member Gary Southerland advised White to “bring us your business plan” to show where they will spend city funding. White said that city and county funding for the Club will be earmarked for the director’s salary. Several Council members praised former director Hall’s constant progress reports and suggested the new director do the same. White said the new director will be hired by March 1. No action was taken on the funding request.
Mayor Linda Keown led the Council in revisiting the15 m.p.h. speed limits they set last month on Thomas Street, Sunset Loop, and Tyler Street. Keown and several Council members indicated they had received a lot of comments from citizens. During an extended discussion, Council member Sharon Johnson reported that school bus drivers complained that the 15 m.p.h. limit could not be met. Southerland added that “I don’t know that there’s a problem” on Thomas, Tyler, and Sunset Loop. Tyler Street resident Barbara Reeves told the Council that a 15 m.p.h. limit “is not real” and that police need to patrol “both ends of Tyler” and enforce the old 25 m.p.h. limit. Givens said the city did not have the finances to have six or seven police officers on duty at all times; he also said putting a stop sign at all intersections of Tyler would back traffic up during peak school traffic. Council member Dionne Merritt stated that 15 m.p.h. was too slow on South Tyler and people “drive like maniacs” on North Tyler.
The Council rescinded all of their changes from last month. Council member Terrell House moved to keep Tyler Street at 25 m.p.h. and add a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Tyler and Morrison to slow traffic. Southerland moved to make the section of Thomas Street 15 m.p.h. between Ward and Main, leaving the rest of Thomas and all of Sunset Loop at 25 m.p.h. The Council approved both measures. Mayor Keown and the Council called for spreading awareness to the city’s motorists of speeding in city limits.
The Council put an end to several months of debate on taking control of state roadways within city limits. House and Givens each said the city needs to let control of those roadways stay in state hands and turn down the state’s offer to give control to the city. The Council approved a formal motion by House to let control remain with the state.
David Gilbert and Kendall Embry presented the Council with the city audit results. Gilbert said his firm gave a “good letter” indicating no problems, which was the “very best” audit level attainable. Gilbert pointed out that the city spent $123,588 more that it took in last year, primarily due to projects the city chose to undertake such as sidewalks. Both Embry and Gilbert said the city is catching up on needed maintenance that had been allowed to slide in years past. Embry stated the city had a balance of around $500,000, which he described as a “real good” balance for a city of Morgantown’s size.
Council member Givens voiced a concern about the US 231 project, saying “we need to slow people down” in the construction area. Givens called on local media to help get the message out to the public. Council member House added that the state should supply signage for the construction zone.
Brad Dockery of the Butler County Little League addressed the Council and listed several concerns the BCLL had with the ball fields at the city park, including issues of fencing, areas needing fill dirt, and placement of the scoreboard. Dockery said the drainage of the fields has improved. The Little League will start using the ball fields in March.
In other business, Mayor Keown recommended Josh Hampton to fill an opening on the Housing Authority Board; the Council approved the recommendation. The Council also approved the 2nd reading of the Continuity of Government ordinance and the 2nd reading of the American Legal S-6 Supplement. Josh Hampton told the Council the target date for the painting of the mural is the second or third Saturday in April. Regarding Spring Cleanup, the Council expressed a desire to coordinate with county government and a preference to place dumpsters at the county garage instead of last year’s location in the middle of town.
Story by Don Thomason, Beech Tree News