Although it still hasn’t been able to hold its April meeting after three attempts, the Jenkins City Council did convene for an “informal” session this week so that a Lexington accountant could review the audit of city finances he has prepared.
After two previously scheduled meetings were postponed, this week’s meeting failed to attract enough council members to form a quorum. However, since accountant Rodney
Welch had driven from his home in Georgetown to present the new audit, Mayor G.C. Kincer asked the three members who did show up for the meeting to hold an informal session even though no business could be conducted.
Welch told the three council members and Kincer that the city’s financial situation is generally good, with the exception of money being lost through the sanitation department.
Kincer also told the council that it will not have another opportunity past the end of this month to determine salaries for the next council and mayor that will be elected this year. After Council Member Rebecca Terrill Amburgey said she did not feel it would be proper to discuss salaries without the full council present, Kincer said the council would have to address it and other business at a special meeting.
Welch told the council that “accounts receivable” showed a deficit in spending against collections in the Sanitation Department and if the sanitation fund wasn’t included in the overall “utilities account”, it would have shown up as a deficit. The other funds cover the losses, but Welch said it is a situation that needs to be addressed.
City Manager Todd DePriest told Welch the city has taken steps to remedy the situation by opting out of sending its solid waste to the Letcher County Transfer Station at Millstone and hauling it to the Pikeville landfill itself. DePriest said he hopes the savings of $14 a ton will allow Sanitation to break even and avoid a rate hike.
Welch said that the audit did show a high rate of expenditure, but said the money is being spent for infrastructure improvements such as extending new water lines and replacing the old ones that have caused so much water loss through leaks. While pointing out that the expenditures have come from grants and loans, Welch said the expenditures will lead to considerable savings in water treatment costs.
Also discussed during the session was a request by Little Shepherd Amphitheater Director Don Amburgey, who wants the city to take over operation of the amphitheater.
Kincer said the Cumberland Mountain Arts and Crafts Com- mittee, which operates the amphitheater, is operating at a $13,000 deficit, a figure he believes the city could manage. Kincer said the city should also be able to find other ways to provide revenue while continuing to allow the performance of the Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come outdoor drama.
The members who were present appeared enthusiastic about the prospect and said they would support the ownership change when it comes up for a vote in the official meeting.
Rebecca Amburgey said the city will be able to obtain funding through sources to which the committee didn’t have access, and added that other events held at the space could provide extra income needed to continue operations.
Kincer reminded the council about a reversion clause that could allow the land to revert to TECO Coal if the arts council loses it. Kincer said the city and county have invested too much money in the project to allow that to happen.
The council also discussed the possibility of connecting with the Wise County Tourism Council to open up the Pine Mountain Tunnel for tourist walks.
The council will conduct its regular business in a special meeting to be held Wednesday, April 23, at 7 p.m. in City Hall.