Whitesburg KY

Neon officials take small raise

Members of the Fleming-Neon City Council have voted themselves a small increase in yearly pay from the current rate of $120 per year ($10 per month) to $500 per year ($41.67 per month).

The council took the action at its February meeting this week at the suggestion of Mayor Suzie Polis, who read a letter from the Governor’s Office for Local Development informing city councils throughout the state that they were eligible to vote in raises up to $5,000 per year. The council also voted to increase Polis’s salary of $7,200 per year by an additional $320 per year to match the council raises. The vote for both raises was 5-0 with Tom Haynes abstaining on both votes.

Polis told council members they had worked hard and did a great deal of extra work and deserved a raise. She added that the raises won’t take effect until the beginning of a new council session following the November elections, and said if council members don’t run for re-election, the raise will not affect them. Cheryl Furby, who is the longest continually serving member of the council, told Polis she has been doing the city’s work for a long time and felt like she deserved more than $10 per month.

Tom Haynes asked Polis if they could have time to study the proposal, but Polis replied that the vote would have to be taken Monday evening in order to meet the state deadline. James D. Collins recommended giving Polis the same raise as the council members, or $380 dollars a year, making her total compensation as mayor $7,580 per year.

In other business, Water Department Superintendent Carlos Phillips told the council the city’s water supplies are in excellent shape and that water “was running everywhere.” Phillips added that while supply was not an issue, the water plant had experienced problems due to the electrical outage in late December and said he attributed the water loss numbers to fraudulent readings obtained from having to refill tanks.

Councilman James D. Collins pointed to a 42-percent loss of treated water and Phillips replied that he didn’t believe the figures were correct due to refilling the tanks and said he would estimate water losses at somewhere in the mid 30s. However, he said that because of the problems caused by the electrical outages, he could not be exactly certain. He also said there had been an electrical problem with a tank in Jackhorn over the weekend that had caused “some customers in higher elevations” to lose water for a couple of hours, but as soon as he was notified he took care of the problem by replacing an electrical relay.

Phillips also told the council he had spoken with Ken Taylor of Kenvirons, who is working with the city on the Haymond Water Project, and had asked him to try to speed up the design phase of the new sewage lift station at Neon Junction. Phillips said the city has enough money to do the work, and getting the design approved is the only thing keeping the project from getting underway. He added that along with representatives of the Kentucky River Area Development District, he would meet with representatives of the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Agency and the Haymond contractor, Boca Industries of London, to finalize the contracts for the Haymond work.

In the Police Report, Chief Mike Dingus reported that the department answered 34 complaints and made two arrests in January. Dingus told the council he is working on a grant proposal to get reflective safety vests and traffic cones for officers, and asked the council’s permission to gather information on a Rural Development grant program that pays 75 percent of the cost of a new police vehicle. Dingus said recent extreme weather had illustrated the need for a four-wheel-drive vehicle for the police department. The council voted to allow him to proceed.

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