Budget cuts

The Berea City Council took the first step in amending its current budget, which will cut more than $184,000 in expenditures for the next four months.

The city plans to trim the budget through personnel, including cutting part-time and temporary positions. City Administrator David Gregory said one of the top costs in the budget is employees, which he said accounts for approximately 58 percent of revenue produced by the city. 

The council also adopted an ordinance that will 

impose fines on littering in the city limits. Those fines will be $500 per violation. Under the ordinance, no person shall throw, discard or deposit litter on any street, public place of private property. Dump outs and sweep outs are prohibited. 

The ordinance states that the council “finds that such rules and regulations are necessary for the enhancement of public safety, well-being, health and the continued well-being of the city.”

First reading of a revised ethics ordinance was read and includes updates on definitions, revising provisions for conflicts of interest, adding provisions relating to the receipt of gifts, use of city property, including equipment, restricting certain actions by officers and employees, revising contents of the financial interest statement, revising nepotism provisions and also revising penalties for ethics code violations.

Council member John Payne had a question regarding endorsements and said it’s “not been uncommon for members of council to bring up certain events or non-profit entries within the city, say the Spoonbread Festival or (the) Public Library” and said technically they could be considered endorsements and sought clarification. 

“How would that fit into the ethics law?” Payne said. “That’s something fairly common and I thought a clarification would be a good idea.”

Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley said he would ask Gregory to refer to contact cooperate counsel to make sure Payne gets an answer to his question and expects a response at second reading likely next month “for the benefit of all.”

Council members also heard first reading of specifying the Fire Chief as the Fire Prevention Code enforcement officer. The council also heard an ordinance declaring surplus property to be sold by the city.

 

In other business:

 

• Fraley opened two bids for the Middletown Trunk Sewer Improvements. Buchanan Contracting Inc. of Winchester offered to do the project at a cost of $2,280,340. Norris Brothers Excavating, based in Crossville, Tennessee offered a bid for $3,268,330. The bids were referred to Berea Municipal Utilities General Manager Kevin Howard for analysis.

• Lucas Witt of Fortune Solutions gave an update to council members on the economic developments in the city and said reaching out to potential developers is a key to improving economic development in the industrial park and said “communities that are pro-active have been the ones to show the most success.”

“Our goal is to find some movement and traction on the land that we own now, how can we do that and how can we re-invest those dollars into future growth in and around (the industrial) park,” Witt said.

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