City council approves $3.559 million budget, salary increases

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Councilmen fume over paved-over crosswalks, approve spending $2 million on detention basin

By Meaghan Downs

The city council unanimously approved the second reading of its $3.559 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, including a 1.74 percent salary increase for mayor, city council and all city employees.
The council approved the first reading of the 2013-2014 budget during its May meeting.
All six council members were present during Monday night’s meeting.
Mayor Edwinna Baker said she made a few adjustments to the budget since the first reading, adding back the $500 she had previously taken out of the CASA budget, and adjusting the expense anticipated for the street sweeper lease-purchase agreement.
After receiving official insurance rate quotes, the mayor also said the budget was adjusted to reflect an 8 percent insurance rate increase, well within what was previously budgeted as an increase.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI), or the rate at which the Kentucky Governor’s Office for Local Government determines the cost of living, is typically set in late February before the city budgets payroll for the upcoming year, according to City Clerk Robbie Hume.
This year’s CPI was set at 1.74 percent, and all city employees, the mayor and all six members of the city council received 1.74 percent salary raises, Mayor Edwinna Baker said.
Last year city employees, the mayor and members of the city council received salary raises equal to the 2012 CPI rate of 2.96 percent, according to Anderson News reports.
The city council voted in 2006 to give itself annual salary increases equal to the increase set by the price index rate for year, according to Anderson News reports.
The scale for employee’s salaries is set outside of the budgeting process, but the salary schedule is included in the city’s overall budget, which was reviewed and approved for in a second reading Monday night after the council approved the 2013-2014 budget.
The city’s salary scale, according to an Anderson News report from 2012, starts at the lowest grade of 17 and the highest salary scale is 33.
This year’s CPI increase will change the lowest salary grade range to $21,017-33,627. The highest salary scale range will change to $45,877-73,404 with the 1.74 percent increase.
The mayor, who is paid twice a month, will receive an additional $549 for a total $31,207.53 for the year.
City council members are currently compensated $383.25 per month, and will receive an additional $82 for the year.

Councilmen address removal
of crosswalks on Main Street
Citizens need crosswalks downtown, even if they are not at stoplights, according to several city councilmen at Monday night’s meeting.
Councilman Ken Evans requested that the issue of crosswalks be added to the Monday night agenda. Evans had previously brought up crosswalks during a work session last week.  
Two crosswalks — one in front of the steps by the county judge-executive’s office and one in front of Farmers Bank — were removed when the Transportation Cabinet repaved Main Street, Evans said during the work session, and citizens had asked him if and when the crosswalks would be repainted.
Mayor Edwinna Baker said during Monday night’s meeting that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet had addressed the issue, and sent an e-mail saying the Cabinet removed the crosswalks due to potential danger to pedestrians trying to cross the street.
In the past, the Cabinet has had several problems with crosswalks at uncontrolled locations, either at an intersection without a signal or at a mid-block location, District 7 Traffic Engineer Logan Baker of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet wrote to Mayor Edwinna Baker in an e-mail.
 “There has been plenty of research throughout the country trying to address the issue, and the common theme is that when pedestrians enter a marked crosswalk, they automatically assume that since they are in the crosswalk they have the right-of-way, and that cars will stop for them. That is rarely the case,” Logan Baker said. “So they’ll start crossing and get a false sense of security thinking that since they are between two white little lines, vehicles will stop for them.”
Councilman George Geoghegan called the Cabinet’s argument “fallacious,” adding that the city should have protested the unnecessary repaving of Main Street.
“They paved the streets to get rid of the crosswalks,” Geoghegan said. “We could have rejoined them from proceeding. They [the Cabinet] wasted taxpayers’ money by paving those streets anyway.”
“How in the devil do they expect us to revitalize downtown if you can’t cross the darn street at the crosswalks?” Evans said. “That’s being very unfair to elderly.”
Councilman Sandy Goodlett said it’s legal to cross the street at any intersection, according to the Cabinet’s letter.
“That said, I understand the logic from the position they were in,” Goodlett said. “But I think people are more likely to watch people crossing the street if there’s a crosswalk than if there’s not… I don’t what they’re [the Transportation Cabinet] thinking. Somebody went way out of their way to come up with this. I guess there’s nothing we can do.”
Councilmen offered several suggestions of contacting state representatives, as well as presenting the idea of a caution light at the intersection where two crosswalks would be.
The council asked Mayor Baker to send a letter to the transportation commissioner and to try to schedule a meeting with him to resolve the issue and present their suggestions.

Wet weather detention basin
The council also unanimously approved to spend $2 million over the next 20 years to construct a Wet Weather Detention Basin near the city’s current wastewater treatment plant.
The plant currently processes about 1.8 million gallons of water per day, but can reach an average of 10 million gallons of water per day during wet weather conditions, about 1 million gallons more than the maximum allowed for the plant.
The new basin can hold two million gallons of runoff water from the wastewater plant if the facility is in danger of falling out of compliance due to high levels of flow.
The mayor is set to file a letter for extension by the June 12 deadline so the city can move forward with the project.
The first payment for the basin — at an estimated $130,000 — will be applied to the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget, according to City Clerk Robbie Hume.
The cost of the project will not affect sewer rates, according to Public Works Director Larry Hazlett.
Councilmember Ken Evans, before the basin was put before a vote, asked that the mayor keep the council better informed of updates to resolutions and projects that the city council previously approved, such as the detention basin.
“I would just to, in the future, when we vote on something a year and half ago and haven’t heard a thing about it, I think we need quarterly info,” Evans said. “I don’t feel like that’s asking too much…keeping us all abreast of what’s going on.”

Other business
The council unanimously approved a resolution to adopt a municipal aid road co-op program between the city, the Transportation Cabinet and the Department of Rural and Municipal Aid for the upcoming fiscal year.
The council approved the second reading for a supplement to its code of ordinances, bringing all ordinances up to date.
Fourth of July festivities will be held in conjunction with the county on July 4 in the county park and on the Lawrenceburg Green.
The city will be holding a surplus auction on Saturday, June 15 at 10 a.m. at the city maintenance garage. The auction will feature all items the city has designated as surplus.