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Legislature vote saves planned budget items

J.D. Chaney, executive director of the Kentucky League of Cities, gives the Mayfield City Council a legislative update during Monday evening's council meeting. The council passed a $10 million budget for the first time ever.

SHELLEY BYRNE/The Mayfield Messenger

BY SHELLEY BYRNE sbyrne@mayfield-messenger.com

The Kentucky legislature's override of the governor's pension bill veto will save the city of Mayfield nearly half a million dollars, the city council learning during a legislative update Monday.

J.D. Chaney, executive director of the Kentucky League of Cities, explained during Monday's council meeting that a phase-in of higher employer contributions to a state-administered pension fund -- capping the city's pension cost increase at 12 percent a year -- means the city will pay around $40,000 to $50,000 and not $500,000 if the phase-in hadn't carried.

Without the phase-in, the cost beginning July 1 would have amounted to 5 percent of the city's budget.

"This impacts the city government's budget more than any other item discussed outside this chamber," Chaney told council members.

Mayor Teresa Rochetti-Cantrell said during the April council meeting, during which the city's 2018-19 budget was introduced, that the city would have to cut pre-planned capital expenditures from the budget if a pension cost phase-in wasn't approved. With the phase-in assured, the council unanimously passed the $10 million budget on second reading Monday, preserving the expenditures.

"We worked long and hard on the budget," Rochetti-Cantrell said before the vote.

Expenditures include safety equipment and building improvements for the fire department, crowd control gear, a car, clothing and a driver's license scanner for the police department, a portion of a new roof for public works, along with a new pickup truck, computers and software for the city clerk's office and new furniture for the planning department. Funding for a parks maintenance employee in addition to the one who cleans up all the city parks is included. The position focuses on care and maintenance as well as planning activities at Cartwright Grove.

"You can see the decisions they make impact your budget in a really intimate way," Chaney said, talking about the importance of more local government officials on the board of the County Employees Retirement System, which funds pensions of both county and city employees.

He added, "We need to look at it as a reprieve rather than a permanent solution," saying that without more local government representatives on the board, it was possible the state could make other pension changes over the years that could be expensive changes for cities and counties.

One thing helping both groups is the Local Taxpayer Protection Act, Chaney said. He described it as a recently approved bill that prohibits unfunded mandates to cities and counties without either providing funds to carry out the legislation's costs allowing the local bodies to reject the legislation.

Also on Monday, the council discussed the possible expansion or location of an industry during an executive session with Graves County Economic Development President Ryan Drane.

Afterward, the council passed a resolution at Drane's urging indicating the city's support of the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority's Kentucky Business Investment Program. The Graves County Fiscal Court previously passed the same resolution.

In short, the program allows eligible companies creating new jobs for Kentuckians to recoup some of their expenditures by holding on to part of the occupational tax money generated for the first few years. It includes a requirement for the number of jobs created, wage rates and the business's cost to invest.

The resolution was a step in attracting a potential business, which Drane nicknamed Project Phoenix II, and he said it would include the business keeping 1 percent of the new occupational tax generated for a period of time, typically 10 years as an industry standard.

In other business, the council:

• Agreed to pay the remaining $1,500 cost for the Purchase Players Community Performing Arts Center to obtain a $4,013 handicapped-accessible lift for disabled performers.

• Create a four-way stop at the intersection of Lincoln and Linwood drives to replace the current three-way stop, which Police Chief Nathan Kent said appeared confusing to motorists after approaching from all sides of the intersection. Some neighborhood residents had requested the change.

• Created the position and job description of part-time seasonal park attendant to the personnel plan to staff the miniature golf course and splash park, both of which open Memorial Day Weekend this year.

• Amended the city's drug and alcohol-free workplace policy to permit preliminary breath testing followed by a follow-up urine screening because of a five- to seven-day delay in getting the urine screening results back.

• Rescinded a ban on carrying concealed deadly weapons on property owned or controlled by the city of Mayfield, but promptly added a new concealed deadly weapons policy for city employees.

• Developed a written blood-borne pathogen exposure plan for employees as required by Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health standards.

• Noted that the city's next limb pick-up will be June 4-7 for the portion of the city on the south side of Broadway and June 11-14 for the north side. Limbs must be no larger than 4 inches in diameter or longer than 4 feet. No more than one pickup truck load per house is allowed, and limbs may not be placed by the roadside more than 48 hours in advance of the scheduled pick-up.