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Park Hills sales tax revenue is up

Fire captains will get a monthly stipend and guilty offenders will be paying more in court costs, Park Hills City Council decided Tuesday night during their regular monthly meeting.

Both issues were approved by a 7-0 vote, with Ward II Councilman Linda Dickerson absent.

In another money issue, Park Hills City Administrator John Kennedy said the latest figures for sales tax receipts are “unbelievable.”

In response to a request from Park Hills Fire Chief Jackie Waggener, the council agreed to amend city ordinances to give fire captains a $50 per month stipend to compensate for additional duties they have been assigned. Currently two of the three captain positions are filled.

According to Waggener, Capt. Brad Weiss does monthly apparatus checks, has completed an inventory of every piece of apparatus and is working on an inventory of each fire house. He also will begin preplanning related to firefighters’ response to certain buildings.

Capt. Jason Reeves completes SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) checks at least twice a month to ensure that the 16 units are in working order. He also does hydrostatic testing on all the air bottles and the breathing air compressor at House No. 1 and is in charge of fire prevention and education.

The additional $100 per month, and the additional $50 when the third captain position is filled, will easily be absorbed in the current budget, Waggener said.

In response to a request from St. Francois County Sheriff Dan Bullock, the council agreed to add a $2 surcharge to court costs for all offenders found guilty or who plead guilty in municipal court. The money will go into the Inmate Security Fund to help defray costs of housing prisoners for municipalities at the county jail.

Kennedy explained that the city currently pays $20 per inmate if and when the convicted person pays the court fees. The sheriff’s department does not bill if the city does not collect that surcharge.

Bullock wrote to the city saying that due to the economy, short falls in sales tax revenues and rising fuel costs, he is asking cities to collect a surcharge of $2 per inmate. The money will be used toward expenses for inmates, including custody and housing.

The additional $2 surcharge will be applied to court costs for guilty offenders in municipal court, whether or not they are incarcerated.

Kennedy did not have a figure for the number of municipal court cases, but City Attorney Ed Pultz guessed the number would be about 800 to 1,000 per year.

While Bullock referred to declining sales tax revenues in the county, Kennedy told the council that the sales tax revenues are on the increase.

“The last two months have been significantly up, but will see next month if this continues,” he said. “The year to date is about 2.5 percent higher than our previous best year.”

The meeting included two public hearings. Community Development Director Matt Whitwell discussed changes in the city’s ordinances to remove circuses, carnivals and similar activities from the requirement to get a special use permit before setting up in the city. Instead, the council would determine whether to approve requests.

Ward I Councilman Tracy McRaven and Ward IV Councilman Larry Kelly voted against the ordinance, because they believe for-profit circuses and carnivals should be able to come to the city.

Kennedy said the ordinance had traditionally included the requirement that circuses and carnivals must be sponsored by nonprofit organizations.

Kelly told the council that he believes reputable for-profit companies should be able to setup carnivals and circuses in the city.

“I don’t have a problem with them being approved by the city council, because that still gives us control,” Kelly said. “But I think it cuts down on free enterprise.”

The ordinance passed, 5-2. After the meeting, Kelly said that even though the ordinance had always had the nonprofit requirement, he believed it should be changed while they were amending the ordinance.

Whitwell also presented information about the new flood insurance rate maps and flood study from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), There are some changes in the lines, but they are not significant, Whitwell said.

Anyone who lives in or near a flood plain can come to the city hall to see the new data, he added.

The new flood plain data takes effect June 16. The city is required to adopt the new maps.

The council revised the weed ordinance to clarify the procedure used for code violations. Once weeds, grass or brush reaches seven inches in height, the property owner – and occupant, when applicable – must be notified for a hearing. If there is an order to mow the yard, that order must be posted or mailed. The owner then has seven days to follow the order or the city will mow and charge the owner for the cost.

“What we had was not incorrect, but could have been clearer,” Pultz said. “Now that the county collector is doing the collecting, we wanted to make sure we had the policy clearer.”

Kenney told the council that the pedestrian bridge in Haney Park is completed, Columbia Park pavilion is nearly completed, and work has begun on the new animals control facility. The auction of surplus property netted the city $10,668.50 in proceeds, he added.

Cost to repair significant damage to a railing on the St. Joe Drive bridge over Flat River will be charged to the driver of the truck that struck them in an accident, Kennedy said.

The city also is looking into an engineering study of Flat River to clean gravel from the river channel to shore up the eroding banks.

Kennedy invited the council to view the beginning of the remodeling in the former police station. The city is remodeling that area to create a conference room, offices for municipal court staff, the chamber of commerce director, economic development director, building inspectors and code enforcement officers. Two holding cells will be built in the council chambers/courtroom. The depot building then will be used for storage, a conference room and chamber meetings.

In other business, the council:

• Thanked Ward IV Councilman Charles Politte, Tammi Burns, Norm Lucas, Betty Duncan, Norman Cannell and Joe Holloway for their work on a Community Development Block Grant application for $339,786 to improve storm water drainage in the Elvins Park area (the city’s share would be $60,000);

• Gave the name Kelly Street to the previously unnamed roadway from Reuter Street to the platted Haney Street;

• Approved the usual assistance of city departments with annual chamber events this year;

• Re-appointed Holly Buxton to her second three-year term on the library advisory board and appointed Margie Wills and Abby Inman to replace Betty Iahn and Danny Naucke, both of whom have reached their term limits;

• Approved an ordinance provision that would allow the council to revoke the business license of someone found guilty of criminal activities in a retail business. A hearing would have to be held first.

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