City taps ALC to help fund muni projects

Published 11:50 am Wednesday, September 27, 2023

By Jordan Brooks

The City of Middlesboro entered into a five-year City Strategic Plan with the Kentucky League of Cities to understand objectives of the city in order to match the ideas to funding.

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At the September Middlesboro city council meeting, Mayor Boone Bowling discussed what entering into a strategic plan with the KLC means for Middlesboro.

“Over the next six months or so, they’ll come in and get public input, and we’ll probably have some kind of meeting between December and February, and try to get everybody together and say ‘what direction do you want to see the city going in?” said Bowling.

“It’s a good way to put on paper some of our goals, that way it’s measurable. That way we can see that it goes smoothly and we can receive this back before its time for our next budget so we have time to budget some of our strategic plan.”

According to Bowling, a lot of cities have had success with the KLCs Strategic Planning and he is optimistic about its potential outcomes.

According to the KLC, the City of Winchester undertook a similar approach with the league  to identify the goals and priorities over a three- to five-year period. A strategic work plan with a detailed checklist and road map was then created from three work sessions held by the mayor and city commissioners. Turning what is presented at these meetings into manageable, achievable implementation steps is the ultimate goal of strategic planning, determining what is achievable and what can be matched to funding and grant money.

The council passed the motion unanimously.

Also during the city council meeting, Josh Campbell of Waste Management expressed the urgency of ensuring that current projects are completed, so they won’t be repeated because of storm and major rain events such as the one that took place in September.

“Our flow went up from roughly 1.2 million (gallons) to 9.2 million gallons within roughly three to four hours. That’s a lot of infiltration,” said Campbell. “It’s imperative that we get this flow monitoring set up.”

Campbell expressed to the council that the recent rain event would have presented an ideal opportunity to utilize the flow monitoring system, accurately identifying areas within the sewer system that are experiencing issues.

“We’ll get more rain,” said Campbell. “I don’t want all these upgrades that we are making progress on to turn around by the time we start the other projects. These don’t need to be done again.”

It is normal for storm events rising up to five inches in one hour to trigger a rise in groundwater levels and increase infiltration flows, or groundwater that is influenced by surface water that enters the sewer pipes, or side sewers through holes, breaks, joint failures, connection failures and other openings, however, Middlesboro’s 37-year-old system frequently fails and requires expensive repairs.

Council member Bill Smith addressed the council in saying that he suggests that the council should place higher priority on completely updating the sewer.

“We got a sewer system sitting down there that is outdated,” said Smith.

“Cities can’t even function without a sewer. I suggest we put a higher priority on the complete update of the sewer department. We started on phase one, and it’s been accomplished as far as I know but if we wait until somewhere down the road and by the time we fix this–what we’ve already done is outdated.”

Middlesboro also set their property taxes for the year 2024, on both real and personal property based on $100 of assessed value, not changing from the previous year. Personal property for the year 2024 was set at 0.23 cents or 23%, and real property tax for the year for 2024 was set at 6.9%.

In other business, the council also:

• Approved city bills

• Approved a motion for the mayor to sign with the Appalachian Regional Commission, or ARC, for the Sewage Lift Station.

• Approved a motion to review and select a vendor for a solar panel project at the Middlesboro Civic Center.

• Tabled motion to open and accept bid of blacktop bids.

• Approved a motion for the mayor to sign a Resolution adopting Environmental Mitigation. Measures which pertain to the main Sewage Lift Station rehab project.

• Approved a motion to refund 2021 Privilege License Fee, $1,875.75, to Seabiscuit Newco, LLC.

• Motion to approve First Reading to establish the minimum structure size in an R2 Zone in the City of Middlesboro, Kentucky Code of Ordinances, establishing minimum size to 900 square feet.

• Approved a motion for a Facilities Update Plan Agreement between Johnson, Mirmiran, and Thompson (JMT) and the City of Middlesboro.

• Approved a motion to amend Ordinance #FY 20-21 #2 Regarding Alcohol Relating to Regulatory License Fees.

• Approved a motion of an Ordinance Cognification Agreement between American Legal Published and the City of Middlesboro.