It will be at least two months before the City of Jenkins can take action toward formally approving alcohol sales in the city after citizens voted overwhelmingly last week to approve liquor sales for the first time since Letcher County was voted dry in 1943.
Jenkins Mayor Todd Depriest told The Mountain Eagle that the city will not be able take any action on the September 27 wet/dry election while votes are being certified by the Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. He said this a standard process and will take 61 days from the time Letcher County Court Clerk Winston Meade finalized the vote count. At that time, the city will meet with representatives of the ABC Commission and will begin work on an ABC ordinance for the city.
Meanwhile, Jenkins residents and businesses will see no changes in city tax rates for the coming year.
At the October meeting of the Jenkins City Council this week, City Manager Benny McCall told the council that by itself, a proposed one-point reduction in the Motor Vehicle Tax rate would not be devastating, but when combined with the loss of revenue from the recent losses of businesses such as Ferus Inc. and Mine Management Inc., it would compound the city’s financial woes. McCall said the loss of the two businesses would probably cost the city about $100,000. City Attorney Randall Tackett also mentioned the loss of the Edwards IGA food market and said that as of right now, the store and employees have not been replaced either.
After the discussion, the council voted unanimously to keep the city tax rates the same as last year. The tax rate for real and tangible property will remain at 34.99 cents per $100 and the rate for motor vehicles will remain at 42.19 cents per $100. Councilman Rick Damron, who suggested lowering the Motor Vehicle Tax by one cent at last month’s meeting, did not attend the October meeting and there were no objections to keeping both rates, although several council members said they would like to be able to lower taxes if it was feasible.
Mayor Todd Depriest told the council his office had cut everything possible to keep costs down and said that at present the city is operating with three police officers after spending most of the summer with just Chief Jim Stephens and Deputy Chief Josh Richardson on the job. Depriest said he hopes to avoid any layoffs during the economic crunch, and that right now the city is operating on an even keel. He added that the city now has 16 fewer employees than were on the payroll several years back, and those losses have been due to attrition.
Police Chief Stephens added that he has received a number of compliments about the work that Richardson and Officer Mike Garner are doing since Garner joined the department. He said the majority of the compliments praised the two officers’ quick response to calls and their patrol activity.
In other business, Depriest said the city’s monthly water report contained very good news in the form of only a five percent water loss rate for September, which marked the first month of operation with all new city water lines. Depriest said that except for a few lines in areas that are difficult to reach and have only a few homes, the city has finally completed the Jenkins Waterline Replacement Project that cut out all of the old city lines, some of which dated back to the city’s founding in 1912. Most of the old lines were charged until they were finally turned off.
Five years ago, the city regularly had unaccounted for water losses of more than 50 percent. Depriest said that Nesbitt Engineering is still looking for funding to extend lines to the areas without the newest lines, but added that most of the lines in question only date back to the 1990s.
In other city business:
• Halloween Safe Night will be held in the Jenkins City Park on Monday October 31, from 6 p.m until 8 p.m.
• Ken Reid of Nesbitt Engineering reported that the Dunham Water Improvement Project is now complete and submitted an invoice from contractors Ronnie Mullins and Sons for $75,561.45.
• Reid also announced that the Fleming- Neon Interconnect is about 30 percent finished. The interconnect will allow Jenkins to sell water to the City of Fleming-Neon in emergencies and will add as many as 22 potential new customers to the Jenkins system.