February 11, 2015;
Council votes 4-1 to pass alcohol ordinance; mayor announces
plan to hold city/county ‘summit’…
LOUISA, Ky. — The Louisa City Council voted 4-1 last night to pass the second reading of an ordinance setting up the local laws on the sale of alcohol which passed by nearly a 2-1 vote in a December 2014 special election.
The only ‘nay’ vote on the new ordinance, prepared by city attorney Eldred Adams, was cast by council member and Louisa United Methodist youth leader Mitch Castle who said he could not in good conscience vote for it mainly because the ordinance allows for Sunday alcohol sales from 3:00pm to 12:00 midnight, much like surrounding counties such as Boyd and Pike have voted recently.
“It’s not that I’m against alcohol sales as much as it is the Sunday sales,” Castle said. “This is just my personal belief, and I can’t cast a vote for it.” Castle was also the only ‘nay’ vote in Monday night’s first reading of the ordinance.
Mayor Harold Slone offered a written statement to the press, which with the ADI and WSAZ-News in attendance, outnumbered the audience.
“ I’m glad we got this behind us and we can move on to bigger projects that I’m excited about,” Slone said. “Remember, the people in the city chose to put this on the ballot, voted on it, and passed it by a large margin which left this council to do the best they could with an ordinance that’s reasonable for the citizens, businesses and visitors of Louisa.” (See summary of ordinance HERE)
“They went through the ordinance, made changes they felt necessary and passed the ordinance,” he added. “In order for the city to issue licenses, collect fees, and regulate the sale of alcohol we had to have this done by Feb 15th. and this council made the deadline. I respect everyone’s vote and decisions on this matter and anxious to move on.”
He also said he has not decided on who will be hired as the city’s ABC commissioner, a job that will pay approximately $24,000 per year.
“The person I thought would be right for this job decided that he didn’t want it just today so I don’t have anyone else in mind right now, Slone said. “The biggest thing was to get this ordinance passed before the deadline and we’ve now done that,” Slone said. “Now I will find the best person I can to fill the position.”
The appointment of the ABC commissioner is made by the mayor and requires no council approval. “But,” Slone said, “I want you guys to agree with the person I choose and I will listen to your suggestions. In the end it is my decision and it’s an important one.”
Council member Lisa Schaeffer, who arrived late and did not cast a vote on the ordinance but did vote for it at Monday night’s special meeting, asked Slone if there are any particular qualifications for applicants. Slone said there are the usual age requirements (21) and the person cannot have a felony on his/her record and other state requirements but there are no added local requirements for the job like having to live in the city and there are no requirements the person has law enforcement experience.
A ‘united effort’ towards progress
When the mayor, who took office only last month, talked about bigger projects he wasn’t just whistling Dixie.
“I am working on a concept that would restructure some of the city boards and commissions and bring them together to create a master plan for projects in the city,” Slone said. “We would also include input from non profit and government groups that have interest like the tourism commission, and city and county government.”
Slone said it’s time that city and county governments work together in Lawrence County and Louisa.
“This will make downtown revitalization a collaborative effort where we are all working toward a “master plan” for revitalizing and developing our downtown area. The other agencies I have spoken with are excited and ready to get to work, Slone said. “I am still doing some of the necessary paperwork and plan to bring everyone together in a ‘summit like’ meeting and roll out the new concept to the board members and interested citizens in the community soon. You will receive a press release announcing the meeting and more details of the concept.”
The council unanimously backed the mayor in his request to be allowed to apply for an up to $10,000 Flex grant from the Brushy Fork Institue in Berea that helps pay for planning efforts for municipalities. He said the new master plan the city and county will be producing and plans for a Riverwalk in Louisa could be at least partially funded by the grant money which does require a 20% in kind contribution from the city. Council member Angie McGuire asked it the local Master Gardener program and other similar projects would qualify for some of the grant money. Slone answered that there will be other grants down the line that he is going after that would include that and several other programs in the city, but not this one.
He said the deadline for application is Feb. 23 and asked the council to go ahead with it and the council agreed 6-0 to apply.
The Council also:
* Approved minutes for Jan. 20, 2015
*Approved Resolution 2015-01, “A Resolution of the City of Louisa, Kentucky Authorizing the Mayor of the City of Louisa to Execute the Necessary Documents for the Execution and Delivery of an Equipment Lease/Purchase Agreement and Related Instruments”. This was approval of the purchase of a new police cruiser which had been approved before the present council took office. There was no mention of a price for the new police car. The city police dept. is now running on all cylinders with six full time officers.
* Mayor Slone said the city street crew will try to fill all the remaining pot holes today (Wednesday) that were not fixed before the cold weather set in. “We purchased $900 of material to fill the holes the best we can to get us through the cold weather,” Slone said. “Then we can begin on the resurfacing that is planned for the city streets.”
* In a non agenda item Slone asked council to approve the leasing of a space in the community center that is not being used to the Community Sharing group, a state sponsored organization that works on various projects to enhance life in Lawrence County (see recent Lazer stories). Community Sharing leader Tina Jackson asked mayor Slone for the space and has agreed to pay $275 on a monthly basis for the small office. Slone said the city has the space leased out to FIVECO but that he has checked with them and gotten their approval for the sublease. City Atty. Adams asked council for time to draw up the lease and check with FIVECO himself but Slone said Ms. Jackson is anxious to have an office and council agreed 6-0 to lease the space to them and Adams can write the lease as soon as possible. Slone said it will be on a month to month basis. “We’re not using it for anything right now and that might generate eenough funding to help fix up the kitchen at the community center which, he said, is badly in need of repair.
* The council also agreed unanimously to ask for bids for surplus property which is in disrepair and includes about seven old trucks, police cruisers a lowboy and a trailer.
The meeting adjourned without the executive session which was on the agenda.