The Jenkins City Council was greeted by an unusually large crowd Tuesday night, many of whom apparently attended the meeting to protest a new tax that has never been formally proposed.
Although many of those present chose not to speak, several did and only one person addressed a letter written by Councilman Terry Braddock that appeared in the March 28 edition of The Mountain Eagle. In his letter, Braddock urged citizens to attend the meeting to protest against what he said would be a “new tax of up to three percent on all employed incomes who work within the city’s corporation limits.” Braddock’s letter did not mention where he heard a new tax was being considered.
Burdine resident Betsy Addington told the council she had a petition with 290 signatures opposing an occupational tax, and Mayor G.C. Kincer told Addington the council had received the petition. Addington said she understands the city needs increased revenue, but said she felt a tax increase solely on working people would be unfair and added that the city should look at other ways of raising funds without burdening working people. Addington was the only citizen to speak against a tax.
Mudtown resident Misty Barker told the council she had a complaint with the city’s police department. Barker said she had been going out of town on Saturday evening and had told her son that he could have a party so he and his friends could watch the University of Kentucky play the University of Louisville in the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament. Barker said she had returned home for a minute when a Jeep pulled in behind her vehicle and then left. She said Jenkins Police Officer Josh Richardson then pulled into her driveway and threatened to take her to jail. Barker said she was not breaking any laws and that she immediately called Mayor Kincer after the incident. (At that point Kincer told the council he had addressed the matter after receiving Barker’s call.)
Barker said that when she got back to town she learned that Richardson had returned to her home about 1:30 a.m., saying he had received a complaint. She said Richardson threatened to take her son to jail if he didn’t allow him to search the house and then, without a warrant, Richardson proceeded to search her home.
Barker said she checked with the Kentucky State Police in Hazard and was told they had received no call concerning a complaint in Jenkins at that time. She said she later spoke to Richardson and he told her a complaint had been filed.
City Attorney Randall Tackett told Barker the Jenkins Police Commission was instituted to handle such issues and asked her to file a complaint in writing. Tackett said the Commission would convene a hearing and take testimony from everyone concerned and make a decision according to city codes. Barker said she would pursue the matter.
Antonio Russo also had a complaint with Officer Richardson, saying he was a passenger in the back seat of a car on Saturday evening when Richardson pulled the vehicle over and demanded that Russo get out and be searched. Russo said he had been watching the UK game as well and had been drinking, but was not driving. He told the council he had been concerned he might be charged with public intoxication if he got out and told Richardson so, but said Richardson threatened to use his Taser on him if he didn’t get out of the car.
Russo said this is the third time Richardson has harassed him. City Attorney Tackett told Russo he should go through the Police Commission as well and Russo said he would file a complaint.
Margaret Shepherd who works at Network Supply in Whitesburg told the council she was there in behalf of a city employee who had been discharged.
Shepherd said the employee had worked at the city water plant and had a second job with Network Supply. Shepherd read a letter from her supervisor to the effect that the employee was a model worker and said she felt he had been unjustly discharged. Shepherd also said the employee was a certified water plant operator and was replaced by an unqualified operator.
In the council’s regular business, Mayor Kincer reported that the city has hired an appraiser to determine the value of the Bert Fields property on Lakeside. He said that when the appraisal is finished the city intends to make an offer on the property as the site of a planned city swimming pool.
Kincer said the action is necessary because TECO Coal Co. chose not to sell the city the first-choice site for a pool near the old Elkhorn Country Club clubhouse. Kincer said the Fields property would be an excellent site for the pool.
The council also voted to declare the Katrina Whitaker property in Dunham at Improvement Circle as surplus. The property was acquired by the city under its blighted and deteriorated ordinance and cleaned up. Attorney Tackett said it is ready to be sold at a minimum of $4,000 so the city can recoup its costs in cleaning the property up.
The council also learned Tuesday that the city produced 13,675,000 gallons of water in March and sold 3,850,000 gallons for a difference of 9,825,000, or a loss of 72 percent.
City Administrator Todd De- Priest said that although the losses will continue until all the city’s water lines are replaced, he will work with Nesbitt Engineering to place meters to determine where the losses are occurring to keep them to a minimum.
In other business:
• Kincer told the council that work is ongoing on a development near Raven Rock Golf Course by Pike County businessman Greg Johnson and said he hopes a hotel will be located there as well. Kincer said he is not at liberty to divulge further information about either at this time.
• Kincer announced the establishment of a “Mayor’s Ride for All- Terrain Vehicles” on Jenkins Day. He said registration will take place at 10 a.m., and the fee will be $5 per vehicle. Proceeds will benefit the Boy Scouts. Kincer said the city has given the Scouts permission to use the lower level of the hold City Hall for their meetings as well.
• Kincer read a proclamation naming April as Child Abuse Awareness Month in Jenkins and the council approved it unanimously.
• City Attorney Tackett announced that the Zegeer Coal and Rail Museum will advertise for bids to paint the inside of the museum.
• City Administer DePriest told the council that the city continues to lose money on tipping fees, which are fees to take city garbage to the landfill. DePriest said proposals to address the situation will be coming soon.