Whitesburg KY

Jenkins council hears second reading of law removing alcohol tax

The Jenkins City Council unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance that modifies the city’s Alcohol Beverage Control Law to take the words “and food” out of it. This removes a tax that had been charged on food sold at restaurants in the city which serve alcohol, although the tax does remain on alcoholic beverages.

The issue came up in September when Jenkins resident Betsy Addington asked the council to separate the taxes from food and alcohol sales at the city’s lone restaurant that sells alcohol in addition to food. Addington was supported in her request by her brother, Councilman Rick Damron. At that time, Addington told the council that she was opposed to the tax that was placed on food and alcohol served in Las Penãs, a Mexican restaurant in the city. Addington said she believed the tax should only be levied on alcohol sales.

Following the meeting, City Revenue Officer Benny McCall and City Attorney Randall Tackett both conducted research on the matter and both came to a special meeting later in the month with recommendations to remove the phrase “and food,” which would do away with the tax on food. At that time Tackett told the council that a law passed earlier in the year by the Kentucky General Assembly, which will go into effect January 1, 2015, will make the question moot and recommended the removing the phrase. The council voted unanimously to do so. The vote to approve the second reading of the ordinance was also unanimous.

In other business, Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering, who works with the city on Water and Sewer Projects as well as other infrastructure issues, reported on a sidewalk project that also raised questions from Damron at the September meeting. At that time, Damron said the city had originally been granted $15,000 for the sidewalk and Nesbitt said that amount was included in the state allocation of $150,000. Nesbitt said bids for the work would have to come from bidders that have been pre-qualified by the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority.

Nesbitt told the council that the original bid had been accompanied by hand drawings during a previous administration and the state funding agency had rejected them, saying that state law requires plans for state-funded infrastructure projects to come from licensed state-approved engineers. He said that at that point, his firm had become involved. He added that inspections of storm sewers alongside the sidewalk and the planned sidewalk route reveal that some of the old lines have collapsed and will have to be repaired as well. The overall cost of $150,000 is covered by state funding.

Council member Rebecca Amburgey said that the question remains, “Do we want the sidewalk?” She said the children who walk alongside Lakeside Drive need a sidewalk to get to school and to and from the Jenkins Middle/High School to the football field for school events.

Councilman Kyle Walker agreed, saying the need is there and the cost will only increase if the council waits to act. He said it certainly won’t get any cheaper and the only other option would be to “ throw our hands up and say we can’t.” The council voted four to zero to approve the project, with Rick Damron abstaining.

City Attorney Tackett also read an ordinance that allows the city to accept funding for Phase II of the Jenkins Sewer Project. Nesbitt told the council that inspections that revealed the needed repairs on Lakeside also show other places in city sewers where clay sewer pipes, which had been considered state of the art when they were installed many years ago, tend to collapse with age from the weight of dirt on top of them. He said Phase II had started in Dunham because it is at the “head” of the system and the repairs will continue until the city’s sewers are rehabilitated.

Nesbitt also reported that city water and sewer infrastructure may figure in the possible location of a federal prison in Letcher County, as work continues on environmental impact planning to determine which of two sites will be used to build a federal prison.

He said he was told that the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has indicated that it would like to build on a site that will have police and fire protection, which gives the Payne Gap site near Jenkins an advantage over one in a rural area in the western part of the county, but added that no decision will be made until the studies are finished. He said if the BOP does decide to locate at Payne Gap, it will probably require a good deal of work on city sewer lines and may require enlarging the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

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