Whitesburg KY
Mostly clear
Mostly clear

Officials in Jenkins disagree over move that cuts some taxes

Jenkins residents will see their property taxes lowered by just over four cents per $100 dollars for motor vehicles and watercraft. Councilman Rick Damron made the motion to lower the tax rate even though real property will be lowered by approximately 20 percent as part of the tax proposal that brought the city a payroll tax earlier this year.

The council, without members Rebecca Terrill Amburgey and Chuck Anderson for the August meeting, voted unanimously in favor of Damron’s motion that lowered the rate to 40 cents per $100. Mayor G.C. Kincer told the council members they may not have made a good decision by lowering the tax rate with other cuts coming. City Finance Officer Robin Kincer questioned the move as well, saying that by lowering the tax rate on motor vehicles and watercraft the council had defeated the purpose of initiating the payroll tax, which was to raise additional revenue for the city.

“If you cut everything back you will defeat your purpose,” said Robin Kincer. “You promised you would do it on real estate.”

Robin Kincer later said the city took in just over $41,000 in motor vehicle and watercraft taxes last year and the tax break will cost right at $4,000 per year. Councilman Damron said the city should crack down on vehicles belonging to city residents that are registered out of state, although that process must be conducted through the Kentucky State Police and is quite involved. Councilman Terry Braddock was pleased with the cut and told Robin Kincer the matter had been settled by the vote. She and Braddock had clashed earlier in the meeting when she had attempted to clear up Braddock’s confusion over an accounting matter and Braddock said he did not want to hear her information but needed time to study the financial reports.

Braddock’s confusion arose from a negative figure in the income/expense statements of the General Fund and Utility Fund. Robin Kincer attempted to explain that the negatives did not represent a negative bank balance but simply signified the difference between expenditures and income for the month of July, when she said a number of large annual expenditures had been made to cover the entire year, including workman’s compensation and liability insurance as well as tax receipt payments to the state. Robin Kincer later said that taxes paid to the city come in between November and April and the city pays bills from those receipts all year long and that no negative bank balance exists. Mayor Kincer told Braddock if he would come into City Hall the accounting procedures would be explained to him.

“Don’t tell me what I know and don’t know,” said Braddock. “I don’t want to be told anything on the spur of the moment.”

In other business, the council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that specifies penalties to be imposed on InterMountain Cable if the company fails to comply with the current franchise agreement to provide service to every dwelling unit, including individual apartments in the city. The resolution calls for fines of $500 per day if IMC fails to complete construction and installation and complete line extensions within 30 days unless the council approves delay for reasons beyond the company’s control and an additional $100 per day if IMC fails to comply with any other provision of the resolution.

The resolution was written in an attempt to provide service to Dennis Sampson, who lives in a private dwelling on Mountain Breeze Drive. Mayor Kincer said the problem lies with the underground lines that were installed when Mountain Breeze Apartments was built and the resulting diffi culty of reaching the lines for service. He said most other residents had chosen to get TV service by other means such as satellite, but Sampson wanted cable service and is within his rights as a taxpayer to have it. Mayor Kincer said the issue can be resolved by allowing IMC to construct lines above ground.

The resolution also requires IMC to deposit $15,000 in an account with the city in a local bank in the form of a letter of credit. The resolution states that this requirement is in the original franchise agreement and IMC has not complied with the provision, nor has it complied with others including extending cable service to every dwelling in the city, providing notice of payments of premiums and providing the city with notice of new certificates of insurance if it changes carriers. The resolution also states that the city never approved the delay in providing service to the Sampson home. City Attorney Randall Tackett read the resolution and the council voted unanimously to adopt it.

Mayor Kincer also announced that former Mayor Robert ‘Pud’ Schubert will assist the city with negotiating a new cable TV franchise after the franchise agreement with InterMountain Cable expires next year as well as assisting with negotiating a new agreement with Kentucky Power or any other provider for electrical power to the city when the power franchise expires in October 2012.

Schubert was co-owner of the first cable company to provide cable television to the Jenkins area, which he sold before becoming mayor. Mayor Kincer said Schubert’s expertise and experience in cable and other franchise matters will be extremely valuable to the city and praised Schubert for his willingness to come out of retirement to help with these and other matters. Schubert served as mayor for more than 20 years and guided the city from near bankruptcy to a solid financial footing and initiated the Jenkins Waterline Replacement Project and other projects that helped to revive the city’s infrastructure and financial reputation.

Mayor Kincer also told the council that he and City Attorney Tackett had negotiated an agreement to sell treated water to the Letcher County Water and Sewer District to service county water customers in the Payne Gap Water Project service area from Payne Gap to the Mayking area including Bottom Fork. The agreement is the result of the Payne Gap Water Project which the Letcher County Fiscal Court turned over to the City of Jenkins for administrative purposes in order to expedite the construction of the lines in areas that need water badly. Kentucky Abandoned Mine Lands will pay for the entire project, Jenkins will administer the construction with the aid of Nesbitt Engineering of Lexington, and all water lines will be turned over to the district upon completion. Ked Sanders of the City Utility Commission said that Payne Gap residents wishing to sign up to receive treated water should call the Letcher County Water and Sewer District Office at 633-8550.

Phase I of the project is now complete and lines are in place to the area just below Fishpond Lake. Mayor Kincer said the lines are about ready to transmit water and the city will sell water to the county at the rate of $3 per 1,000 gallons. The water and sewer district approved the arrangement at its July meeting. Mayor Kincer said the Payne Gap extensions will eventually allow the city to sell water to as many as 800 households. The city will sell water to the district through a master meter located at a tank at the junction of US 119 and US 23 and the district will handle billing, collection, and all future service and maintenance once the lines are turned over.

Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering told the council that construction on Phase III of the Jenkins Waterline Replacement Project has proceeded along the present route to minimize problems with streets being torn up for the Jenkins Homecoming Festival and the city’s Centennial Celebration. Nesbitt said the contractor, H20, will cease work on the lines for two weeks during the festival season in order to allow for the festival to proceed without encountering construction related problems.

Nesbitt also said work on Phase II in Burdine is still being delayed by easement talks with TECO and said contractors are coming in to examine city sewer lines to the farthest reaches and install flow meters to determine how much rainwater and other non-sewer water is getting into lines before the construction phase of Phase III of the sewer line rehabilitation begins. He added that a memorandum of agreement has been signed between AML and the City of Jenkins to accept $3 million for Phase II of the Payne Gap Water Line Project to extend water lines to Mayking where they will connect with lines owned by the City of Whitesburg. Easements for a tank that will be owned by the county are underway and the tank will be fed by the Jenkins tank at Raven Rock Golf Course.

Nesbitt said the Jenkins tank is located at the highest elevation of any tank in the state. He also told the council the city paid a $6,699 fee to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife in lieu of conducting a study to determine if Indiana Bat habitat will be disturbed, which will be refunded by AML.

In response to a question about the city’s ability to supply the additional customers, Nesbitt said that the city’s waterline replacement will be complete about the same time the Payne Gap project is finalized and that most if not all the water leaks that have plagued the city will be eliminated which will increase the city’s capacity. In addition, the Goodwater Project will add water from an underground river that runs through Pine Mountain. The city currently loses between 65 and 75 percent of its treated water to leaks and once those leaks are eliminated the amount of water the city needs to produce to satisfy the needs of its customers will be greatly reduced and Mayor Kincer said the water from the Goodwater Project will be run into the plant without going into Elkhorn Lake. He said the water is almost completely pure and that while the Kentucky Department of Water will still require it to undergo a treatment process, it will be much easier to treat than the lake water which requires the removal of silt and much more chemical treatment. Former Mayor Shubert also reminded the council the city owns the water rights to former Consol Mine 207 in Dunham.

Nesbitt added that during the groundbreaking ceremony for Phase III of the Waterline Replacement Project, funders and officials were shown a section of the water line from Lakeside that had already been replaced and were shocked at the condition of the line. He said that 94th District State Representative Leslie Combs was so disturbed that she got calls underway and the city has since received calls asking for cost estimates for Phase IV of the waterline replacement efforts.

City Manager Todd De- Priest reported that city workers repaired 17 leaks in July including a massive leak going into Wheaton Hollow that he said had been responsible for about six million gallons and ran into a culvert so it never showed above ground. De- Priest added that workers at Burdine Sewer Plant had saved the city at least $3,000 by rebuilding a pump on their own rather than hiring a contractor and said the city transported 94.5 tons of garbage to the landfill in July. He added that about six tons of garbage, 743 blue bags, were recycled to save the city that much on tipping fees.

DePriest also reported that work on the new city swimming pool and community center is ongoing and the contractor will break ground on the actual pool as soon as state regulators approve the plans which call for a zero entry pool with a maximum depth of five feet. Mayor Kincer praised former Mayor Schubert for helping the city locate unspent leftover funds from a number of projects to be used for the pool and said the Kentucky River Area Development District has worked to find funders that will provide funding, with the money Schubert helped find going as match to allow the city to spend almost $1 million total on the project. Mayor Kincer also said that work to transform the old Jenkins High School into senior apartments is now funded and will begin this fall.

Utilities Commission Chairman Ked Sanders announced that the city produced 17,985,000 gallons of water in July and sold 4,082,000 for a difference of 13,903,000 or a potential loss of 77 percent. Of that loss, 7,959,520 gallons were accounted for including the Wheaton Hollow leak and 5,943,480 were unac- counted for a 33 percent unaccounted loss.

Sanders also said the preparations for the Homecoming Days Festival, which will be held August 23 to 25, are complete.

Sanders said he has booked 50 vendors including food booths, and 18 reunions. The Tams will headline on Friday and the Coasters will headline on Saturday. The World War II Monument will be dedicated on Saturday August 25, at 11 a.m. Mary Ann Mullins, who spearheaded the development of the World War II Monument, will be recognized as Outstanding Citizen and retired pharmacist Wendell “Butch” Boggs will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Coasters are a rhythm and blues group that started in 1955. The group is a major influence in American rock and was among the initiators of the “doo wop” sound. The group had a long association with major songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to produce the hits “Down in Mexico”, “Young Blood”, “Searchin’”, “Charlie Brown”, “Poison Ivy”, “Little Egypt” and the chart-topping “Yakety Yak” which featured King Curtis on tenor sax.

In 1987 the Coasters were the first group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Leon Hughes and Adolph Jacobs are the only surviving members of the original Coasters.

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