City won’t put delays on items to be voted on by council

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By Stephen Thomas

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - The Shepherdsville City Council debated on how they will handle future debates.

By a 3-2 vote, an ordinance seeking to prohibit voting on an issue, unless it had been submitted for the agenda by the Wednesday prior to the agenda preparation, failed.

The matter arose after an issue listed as discussion on new school resource officers became a matter in which council members were asked to cast a vote.

The ordinance would have required information on potential city business to be presented to the clerk’s office the Wednesday prior to a meeting, with final agenda approval by the matter on Friday.

Also, no action would be taken on a first presentation to the council, allowing discussion by council members and the public at a second meeting.

Council member Jose Cubero said he had no problem with the proposed ordinance as long as no restrictions were included.

Council member Gloria Taft was concerned on how the ordinance would affect “quick decisions” the council would need to make.

“You’d have to call a special meeting, and that’s more publishing in the newspaper,” she said. “It may start Shepherdsville having a lot of meetings.”

(The calling of a special meeting does not require any additional publication of notice. It only requires that media be notified at least 24 hours in advance, a set agenda be set and the notice be posted at the meeting place.)

Council member Dana Bischoff-James agreed that extra fees could ensue, along with being unhappy about “adding new laws.”

Council member Bernard “Bernie” Brown said the spirit of the proposal was intended for times when city money would be spent without knowledge by, nor information provided to, all council members.

“We need better meetings than in the past,” he added.

James mentioned a “last-minute” vote to allow a permit for the city’s annual Christmas parade.

“If we didn’t vote in time, we would’ve needed an extra meeting,” she said.

Brown referenced a vote for new school resource officers to be added to the city’s police force. He said the vote to spend that money took place at a meeting that was intended to be just discussion.

“That’s not true,” Cubero countered. “We sent an email a month before. We waited for (James) to be here. We decide what to do; we don’t need this ordinance.”

(James, who proposed the school resource officers’ positions, was out of town for a month. A vote took place at the first meeting following her return)

“The SRO meeting agenda said a presentation,” Brown responded. “There was no word of a vote that night.”

James made a motion to not approve the proposed ordinance, seconded by Cubero.

“We don’t want to put ourselves in a place to break our own rule,” she said.

A vote of 3-2 killed the ordinance, with Brown and council member Faith Portman in opposition. Council member Clinton Kline, who proposed the ordinance, was absent during the vote.

“We need more order as to how to spend the city’s money,” Brown said. “There is little or no communication.”

“We should’ve waited for (Kline) before we voted,” Portman argued. “We waited for (James) in January for her (proposal), we should’ve waited for (Kline).”

Kline arrived at the meeting five minutes after the vote took place.

In other business:

- Mayor Scott Ellis distributed an itemized list of potential city purchases via surplus funds.

One item discussed on the list was a boom mower used to cut growth along ditches and streams. Brown believed a boom should be bid out to companies using sealed bids.

Portman mentioned a ditchline located behind the El Nopal restaurant on Highway 44 East. She said the area was a 60-foot ditch, while the boom was only 20 feet.

Scott Fleming, overseeing both the city Public Works and Sewer departments, said a boom could be put to use in many other areas of the city.

Portman suggested that the county owned a larger boom and inquired about entering into a contract for its use.

“Can we do a contact with the county instead of spending all this money,” she asked.

“There are several locations we could use it, river banks, several spots,” said Fleming. “We wouldn’t ask for it if it was not needed.”

Brown also inquired about an interlocal agreement with the county.

“We should support a cheaper way if there is one,” he said.

“Why make the county pay for the city,” Fleming responded.

- Acting fire chief Terry Whittaker updated the council on the purchase status of potential new “first response” vehicles.

At a previous meeting, Whittaker informed council members that the current vehicles, used by chiefs and captains to arrive at a scene and assess further action, were in need of replacement.

According to Whittaker, the city missed out on purchasing for the 2014 model year and would have to consider 2015 models. He said a 2015 purchase would include a slight increase in the originally proposed funds.

“They would now be at about $28,000 per unit,” he said. “That;’s a slight increase of about $3,000.”

Whittaker said budgeted funding, along with money from the department’s mitigation fund, would pay for the purchases.

Portman asked how much would be left in the mitigation account. Whittaker estimated about $42,000 in the account, with about $30,000 left after the purchase.

The council agreed to table the decision until the next meeting, with budget meetings set for each city department taking place prior to that meeting.