Whitesburg KY
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Council addresses signs, meters

The Whitesburg City Council this week conducted the first two readings of a new ordinance that amends an older one enacted in October 1965 relating to signs and outdoor advertising. The ordinance is enacted to protect property values, create a more attractive economic and business climate, protect the physical appearance of the city, and enhance the cultural character of the community in any area of the city that is zoned as commercial. Commercial advertising of any kind will be completely and absolutely prohibited in any area of the city that is zoned as residential only, within city limits.

The ordinance amendment empowers the city to regulate signs in commercially zoned areas of the city to ensure the sign does not interfere with vehicular or pedestrian traffic, block sidewalks, or impede the view of other business signs. In order to erect a sign, the business wishing to do so must certify that all the conditions in the ordinance have been met. At that point, the city will either grant or deny permission to install the sign.

The council is taking the action so that Pikeville Medical Center can mark the location of its new facility in West Whitesburg with a sign that is as prominent as others already in place there.

The council this week also opened three bids for “radio read” water meters and created a committee to evaluate each bid for its potential effectiveness and value. Committee members are Councilman John Pellegrini, Water Maintenance Director Chris Caudill, Assistant City Clerk Donna Perkins, and City Clerk Jessica Keene. The committee will evaluate each bid and decide if the price is equal to the value and if it servea the city’s needs.

The bid packages run from $183,000 to $317,885 to replace all the city’s existing water meters with either new radio read meters or packages that will convert the existing meter to full radio read. Some of the more recently installed meters can be adapted, which will save about half the cost of a new meter.

At a meeting held last August, the council heard a presentation from C.I. Thornburg about the radio read meters. Thornburg’s Chief Sales Officer Rodney Adkins said the system will not only increase revenue for the city by providing exact data, it will also save labor by allowing city workers to attend to other matters instead of the time-consuming manual method of meter reading. Chris Caudill said the system would help the city in a number of ways.

Council members also expressed concern about the reliability of the data upon which the report was based and most agreed that they would not want to vote on a rate increase until they were certain the data for at least one billing quarter (three months) had come from the new accounting system. Although the issue of radio read meters was not tied to the rate raise or the suspect data from the old accounting system, data from the radio read meters would be more exact than meters read by hand.

In January, the council heard a report from Andy Lange, Assistant Director of the Kentucky Rural Water Association (KRW), that had been compiled by KRW that recommended raising the average household water, sewer, and sanitation rate to $50 per month. Lange told the council the city was losing money presently. However, he said he was only certain about the information that had been reported since the new accounting system, which also does billing for the utilities, was installed. Most of the report, which analyzed data for 2018, had been produced by the old system, which was an outdated accounting system the city replaced last year.

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