By John L. Ross, Staff Writer
No raises for the city council — that’s what the Barbourville City Council unanimously agreed to during its regular meeting Thursday.
Prior to the vote, Leonard Lester, who attended the meeting, said council members should vote themselves for a raise.
“You ought to be compensated more,” Lester said, adding that doubling the salaries would be “more than reasonable for what you do for the community.”
Currently salaries for the council members are $1,200 annually. The mayor receives $12,000 annually.
“If we change, it affects the employees more than us,” Mayor David Thompson said. He explained that “it’s been tight the last couple of years (to) do the budget.”
He added that despite the hard times the city has faced, they still made it through “without cutting the budget” or services to the citizenry.
It was then asked whether or not a raise was affordable.
“(I’m) not saying we couldn’t afford it,” Thompson said, again adding the money for the budget “was really tight this year.”
He also added an increased salary may directly affect some of the current council members, even though the vote itself concerned “future” raises that would take effect years after the vote.
Council member Wilma Barnes motioned to keep the salaries at their current rate, and it was seconded by Council member Gary Williams.
In other council business:
— Mayor Thompson provided pictures for council members to review. The photos showed the wear and tear on the playground equipment at Thompson Park.
Thompson said the equipment was used when it was donated to the city in 2008, and now there “are several things wrong with it.”
He said there were a couple options for the council to review — both of which mean ultimately replacing the current playground equipment with new pieces. Thompson said they needed to vote to make the current equipment surplus, then either sell it outright or sell it through a government auction website.
Council member Ronnie Moore asked when the equipment was worth.
Thompson said they could possibly realize “a couple thousand dollars” if they chose to auction the equipment off through the government website.
Otherwise they may only get a few hundred dollars through a bidding process.
Council member Darren West motioned to surplus the equipment and sell it through the government website, and that was seconded by Moore. The council was unanimous in its decision.
— Mayor Thompson announced the Red Cross approved the First Baptist Church in Barbourville as a “safe haven” during emergencies which may strike the city. He explained that he and Fire Chief Doug Dozier attended a Local Emergency Planning Commission meeting to discuss ways to pull a community through a disaster, such as “tornadoes, fires, a bus or a plane crash.”
He said the Red Cross offered its “highest praises” to the church and said the church was “prepared and ready” to handle a crisis.
“This is good for the city,” Thompson said.
— Denise Wainscott, the new director of the Barbourville Tourism Director, announced the annual Barbourville Christmas parade, traditionally on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, will be moved a week ahead. She said all other Barbourville annual celebrations will remain the same, but it order to ensure better participation and attendance for the parade, it will be the second Saturday after the Thanksgiving holiday.
— Also discussed during the meeting was a homeless situation facing the city. While there are several places to house women who are or become homeless, there are no places for men to go. Homeless men have been found sleeping under bridges, in the ballpark and under overpasses. No action was taken on the issue.
— Council members did go into executive session “to discuss the sale of property.” The 40-minute closed session opened back up, but no decisions were reached during the session.