|After Duke Energy finishes its project, city road work will begin on Wilbers Lane at the beginning of October.|
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by Robin Gee, city council beat editor
A public hearing for the 2021 property tax rate was held prior to this month’s city council meeting. Council voted unanimously to not increase the rate, and to keep it at $3.97 per $1,000 of valuation as planned. This is the same rate it was for 2019 and 2020.
Provided a property’s assessment remains unchanged, property owners will pay the same in city property tax this year, explained Mayor Eric Haas.
The mayor added that, with the adoption of the rate, coupled with COVID relief and other funding support, “the budget for Fiscal Year 21-22 will finish at or ahead of projections for the second straight year.”
He noted that "foregoing the allowed 4 percent increase could negatively affect the city’s fund balance in the future, but that being said, anything we can do in the current economic climate, anything we can do to help out our citizens, is positive."
Haas noted that, even without the property tax increase, the city anticipates a 1.6 percent increase in revenue due to some increased assessments from home sales.
City staff’s recommendation was to keep the tax rate at $3.97 per $1,000 of assessed value. The ordinance reflecting this recommendation had its first reading following the public hearing.
Updates on city projects
City Administrator Ron Dill gave a brief update on city projects.
He announced the initiation of the process to update the city’s zoning ordinance. This process normally follows the adoption of a Comprehensive Plan update, he explained. Now that the Comprehensive Plan is complete and projects are underway, it is the time to start. Alisa Duffy Rogers, an architect/planner with CT Consultants will serve as advisor and facilitator for the city staff and the Planning Commission involved in reviewing the zoning ordinance.
The Planning Commission will then make a recommendation to council. Changes could reflect new state rules as well as things the city has identified in the Comprehensive Plan.
Traffic calming medians, signage and pavement markings have been completed on Chesapeake Avenue. These items were funded in part by a grant from the Devou Good Foundation, a group dedicated to accommodating and creating pedestrian friendly city spaces. The price tag for the improvements was $70,000. The road will be closed to through traffic during the day for city staff to do some milling and resurfacing on the street before reopening it to traffic. Following completion of the work, staff will conduct a speed study.
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Work on the city building has faced a few roadblocks that have had to be addressed, said Dill. Insulation work is being done in the front of the building. Workers removed carpeting from the lower level in the Police Department after minor flooding last month. This has moved up the timeline for floor covering replacement in that space, said Dill.
Also, a rooftop air conditioner serving the PD had to be replaced sooner than anticipated. Work on the Fire Department quarters is moving along and is expected to be ready for firefighters’ return next month. The public sidewalk is scheduled to be completed soon and opened up for public use, he said. Generally, the project is on schedule. Dill hopes to get council into the building to see the progress in October.
The much anticipated Tower Park playground equipment is expected to be delivered and installed by the end of this month. Eaton Asphalt also anticipates completion of paving of the parking lot adjacent to Shelter 3 by the first week of October.
Chris Manning of Human Nature is busy compiling public input for the proposed bike/skate and splash parks, said Dill. Once compiled, the information will be presented before the Recreation Committee at their meeting on September 15 in the Mess Hall.
Street program updates
On the street programs, Dill said the Public Works Committee will schedule a public inspection of 2020 program improvements. The billing for that cycle will not go out until this spring, he noted.
As for the streets in the 2021 program, Eaton Asphalt is scheduled to begin work on Waterworks Road beginning October 4. Some work from SD 1 is also anticipated. On Wilbers Lane, Duke Energy has started replacement of their utility poles and gas main/services along the street. Completion of this work is set to be completed October 1. Then street reconstruction can begin.
The trails grant submitted by the city for the first phase in Tower Park is currently under consideration and news should come on that soon.
The city has received a grant for planning work on Route 8. City staff and contractors are doing an evaluation that Dill said will prepare them to approach Kentucky DOT on the issues.
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