In Sept. 16 IssueBy Kim GrahamTJ Reporter
Looming deadlines for the end of Russell County's 911 Dispatch dominated discussion at this month's Russell Springs City Council meeting.
At the meeting, Mayor DeHart notified the council of an invitation to the Russell County Fiscal Court meeting and asked for their input regarding the county's 911 Dispatch issues.
"In my capacity I do not have the authority to make a decision on how much if any money the council wants to put in this operation," DeHart said. "What I'm asking of you is do you have any special instructions for me when I go down there."
Councilman David Blakey said he would like to see all three governing bodies, Russell County Fiscal Court, City of Russell Springs, and City of Jamestown get together to work toward a solution.
Monday, October 18, 2010 is the last day Russell County's 911 Dispatch service will be in effect.
In the event the county no longer offers 911 Dispatch, Mayor DeHart stressed the importance of making contingency plans in the city.
He said he has asked Russell Springs Police Chief Joe Michael Irvin to research possible solutions for police and fire department emergency notification.
"We wouldn't handle ambulance calls or anything of that nature just strictly police and fire services," said Chief Irvin. "If we are put in that position, we'll do whatever is necessary to provide those services to the people in Russell Springs."
Mayor DeHart outlined the emergency reporting system being considered for city residents.
"Basically, what we would do is we would have a telephone number that would ring into the office here and to every policeman's telephone and we can answer police calls probably just as quick if not quicker than it would be the other way," said DeHart. "We may have to deliver those numbers to every household in this city - put it in the papers and what have you."
Russell Springs Fire Department will also receive emergency calls using a direct telephone number in the proposed reporting system.
There is concern however, regarding after hours emergency response within the city.
"Now I take it there's no particular problem in calling the office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. but I don't know what's going to happen after 4 o'clock," Mayor Dehart said. "That's something the Fiscal Court is going to have to decide. There's a lot of data they need to look at before they make that decision."
Financial burdens placed on municipalities and taxpayers of the county were also given much consideration during the meeting.
"It's hard for a little town like us and a little town like Jamestown to reach into our coffers and pull out $40K or $50K a year," said DeHart. "As you know, we already have a voted tax in Russell County that we all pay whether we live in the city or the county - 3.8 cents per $100 valuation of real property and 5 cents valuation on tangibles. Now, I'm not going to advise the Fiscal Court. They should know their own business, but we're paying that tax and we expect something out of it."
Councilman Eric Selby said if the city chooses to pay one third of the county's 911 Dispatch fees, the taxpayers in the city will be taxed twice.
Mayor DeHart agreed and suggested equal contribution across the county.
"We'll be taxed twice," DeHart said. "I think it's double taxation and I also think it's a hidden tax. It's just that simple. If they want to charge everybody the same amount throughout the county - let's do it. I'm for it," said Mayor DeHart. "I'm 100 percent for it."
DeHart said he doesn't see the council making a decision without further information, including an EMS audit report.
In other discussion, dogs running loose in Russell Springs will not only go to the dog pound but owners will also be fined for violating the city's leash law.
Mayor Hollis DeHart gave a stern warning to pet owners inside city limits at the meeting.
"Unrestrained dogs is getting to be more of a problem seems like than it has been in the past," said Mayor Hollis DeHart. "Inside the city limits, pets have to be under control of the owner and we do have a leash law."
He said a pet is considered property and the owner of that property is responsible when pets cause damage.
"Now, nobody wants to pick up someone's pet and take it to the dog pound but there is a leash law here and dogs, those particularly that will get together and run in packs, are extremely dangerous," said DeHart.
He warned those who have pets that run loose through the neighborhood or that bark incessantly, will be held responsible for their pets' actions.
"I'm going to have to instruct the police when they see a dog running loose they are to contact the dog warden, get that dog under control, and move it to the dog pound and it costs to get that dog out," DeHart said. "Also, with the leash law that we've got here in Russell Springs, if we know whose dog it is, it will cost them a fine of $100 to $500. Nobody wants to do that but in order to keep people safe it's something we're going to have to do."
The Council entered into executive session pursuant to KRS 126.96.36.199 Section C Proposed or Pending Litigations Against or on Behalf of a Public Agency. No action was taken in the executive session.
In other happenings at the meeting:
• A special called city council meeting will be held Sept 21, 2010 at 6 p.m. to go over the audit. Auditors will present a report on the audit.
• City Councilman Ray Barrett said many people have commented on the work that has been done repaving roads in the city and commended Mayor DeHart for doing a good job.
"I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to do it," said DeHart. "We've still got a little more to do but we're getting to it just as quickly as we can - just trying to balance our time and money…"
• The council heard the first reading of this fiscal year's ad valorem, or property, tax ordinance. Real property and personal property will be taxed at .180 cents per $100 of assessed value up .03 from last year.
• The council voted to sponsor a hole in the Russell County Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament for $100.
• The council voted to run an ad in the Russell County Tourist Commission brochure at a cost of $850.
• Aron Houdini requested $150 to sponsor travel expenses for an actor from the Ernest movies who is scheduled to meet and sign autographs for folks attending the Fall Festival. The council voted to sponsor the actor's expenses at $300.