Golf carts on streets passes first reading; water rates increased

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By Shannon Brock

Mayor Edwinna Baker cast a yes vote Monday night to break a tie and put the city in motion to legalize golf carts on city streets.
Council members voted 3-3 on the first reading of the ordinance — Ken Evans, Larry Giles and Sandy Goodlett voted in favor; Bobby Durr, Steve Rucker and Tommy Vaughn were opposed.
The council will vote next month on the second reading and, if it passes then, it will go into effect.
City attorney Robert Myles said the ordinance approved by council members was a mirror of the statute authorized by the state in KRS 189.286.
According to the statute and the city ordinance, a golf cart is defined as any self-propelled vehicle that is designed for use on a golf course, has a minimum of four wheels, does not operate at a speech of more than 35 mph, is designed to carry no more than six people, has a maximum gross vehicle weight of 2,500 pounds, has a maximum rated payload capacity of 1,200 pounds and meets federal motor vehicle safety standards for low-speed vehicles.
Under the statute, golf carts for public roadways would be required to have and display a permit issued by the local government and be inspected by a certified inspector.
The carts would only be allowed on roadways with a speed limit of 35 mph or less and would not be allowed to cross roadways with a speed limit above 35 mph.
The operator would have to be a licensed a driver and could only drive the cart between sunrise and sunset.
Golf carts would have to be insured and proof of insurance would need to be inside the cart at all times. Golf carts would be subject to traffic regulations.
If, at any time in the future, a road is determined to be unsafe for golf carts even though it meets the above requirements, the mayor or her designee can suggest it be removed “from the scope of this ordinance.”
The Lawrenceburg Police Department would be in charge of all inspections. Police officers will also be responsible for issuing citations to anyone found to be violating the ordinance.
That offender would then be required to appear before the city’s code enforcement board, who would then determine whether a fine should be issued and, if so, how much it should be. As written, the ordinance suggests the fine be between $100 and $500 for first-time offenders and between $500 and $1,000 for subsequent offenses within a 12-month time period.
City Clerk Robbie Hume contacted other cities that have approved similar ordinances, and said he doesn’t foresee a rush of people trying to get a permit.
“Other cities had about a half dozen in the first year,” Hume said. “[That decreased to only] a couple the next year.
“It can be expensive to bring them up to the specifications.”
Before voting on the ordinance, Councilman Durr reminded other council members to consider the slow speed of some golf carts.
Durr said he researched the topic and found that the average speed for an electric golf cart is 12 mph.
Hume said most golf carts registered in other cities were gas powered.
“I don’t think we’ll be inundated with golf carts on the highway,” Councilman Goodlett said.
Councilman Giles said he had spoken to between 25 and 30 citizens who were in favor of legalizing the carts on city streets.
Giles said he sees golf carts in his neighborhood regularly as it is.
“As a matter of fact, there are some pretty cool looking ones out there,” he said.
The second reading of the ordinance will most likely take place at the next regularly scheduled council meeting on March 14 at 7 p.m. in city hall.

Council approves water, sewer rate hikes
The council also voted Monday night on first reading to increase water and sewer rates by 7.4 percent.
This increase includes a 1.5 percent consumer price index increase, which the city implements each year, in addition to an extra 5.9 percent increase.
This increase, along with paying off some of the city’s bonds when CDs mature later this summer, will help remedy a difference in the city’s water and sewer department parity rating.
The city is required to maintain a parity rating of 1.3. However, the last audit showed the rating to be at 1.12. Having a parity rating of 1 would mean the city was spending exactly the same amount as it was bringing in. A parity rating of 1.3 would mean the city was bringing in 1.3 times the amount of funding that it was spending.
The extra third in revenue, more or less, helps guarantee the city will be able to make its bond payments.
In other business, the council voted to update the city’s policy for a drug-free workplace, allow the mayor to act on its behalf and submit a FEMA hazard mitigation application, update its compensation plan as required yearly by the state and approve a cable franchise agreement extension.