2017-10-11 / Front Page

Neon city council assumes control over waterworks

By WILLIAM FARLEY

The Fleming-Neon City Council voted to assume oversight of the day-to-day operations of the city’s water commission at Monday evening’s October city council meeting.

After emerging from an executive session called to discuss a personnel matter, the council announced the decision. Later comments from city officials revealed that the water commission has been unable to keep enough members to conduct its business lately, and is down to two members against the required membership of five. Neither of the neighboring cities, Jenkins or Whitesburg, in Letcher County operates with a water commission, and the city council in both cities also manages the waterworks. The water commission is a department of the city council and the council has jurisdiction.

The council will continue to oversee the water company for the foreseeable future in order to make decisions regarding a large grant for work that is just underway to refurbish the city’s water and sewer infrastructure. The city water plant is currently in the opening stages of a complete overhaul and is working with a $1 million grant acquired through a Community Development Block Grant through the Kentucky Department of Local Government.

The $1 million is the initial installment of an overall $3 million grant that is set to completely rebuild the city’s water and sewer systems. Work on the first phase of the project has just gotten underway at the water plant and Water Company Supervisor Chris Banks and Ken Reid of Nesbitt Engineering told the council that some pipelines inside the plant are being replaced. Banks said the work will not affect the city’s ability to produce water but the noise from jackhammers breaking up the concrete floors to expose the lines is considerable. Banks will remain in his position as water company supervisor and Tony Wilder will continue in his position as sewer plant supervisor.

Banks also told the council that water workers have done an excellent job in locating and repairing a number of pipeline leaks that caused the city to have a water loss rate in September of 42 percent. He said that production of treated water at the city plant had steadily risen to 370,000 gallons per day, which is unusually high. After the leaks were located and fixed, Banks said that water production has returned to the more normal rate of 250,000 gallons a day.

In other business, the council voted unanimously to leave city taxes at their current rate. Real property and motor vehicles will remain at $.25 (25 cents) per $100, and tangible property will remain at $.45 (45 cents) per $100. The council had tabled the issue at least month’s meeting to consider the possibility of a tax increase or selling delinquency taxes to a thirdparty purchaser, but neither action was proposed at the October meeting. City Clerk Janice Banks said that the city usually averages losing about $6,000 a year to tax delinquencies (unpaid taxes).

Police Chief Mike Dingus reported that the city has received a Homeland Secu-

Grant Law Enforcement Protection Program Grant in the amount of $2,558 to provide new body armor and two new firearms for city officers. Dingus said the body armor officers are currently using has reached the manufacturer’s recommended date for replacement.

The council also voted to appoint Neon resident Brett Fleming to fill the council seat that was vacated when Councilman Jeff Breeding died last year. Councilman Tom Haynes suggested Fleming and said he had expressed a willingness to serve. Council members also approved a request from Neon resident Donnie Quillen to create an entrance to his property, where he operates a snow cone stand. Mayor Susie Polis said that the original entrance had been taken by sidewalk construction several years ago, and Quillen had asked that he be allowed to make it accessible.

The city’s annual Halloween Safe Night will take place on October 31 between 5 and 8 p.m. at the city stage area in downtown Neon. In the event of rain, it will be moved across the street to City Hall. Mayor Polis also told the council the city has a new business, Bentley’s Drive-in at Fleming. She said the business, which sells hot-dogs, hamburgers, milkshakes, and other food, is now operating and several council members said the food is very good.

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