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Pioneer Village looking for ways to make schools safer

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 PIONEER VILLAGE - What can the city of Pioneer Village do to make students safer in school?

Police chief D.J. Reynolds discussed one solution with the city council, mentioning the possibility of providing a school resource officer.

Reynolds and mayor Gary Hatcher met with Bullitt County Public Schools superintendent Jesse Bacon and Sarah Smith, BCPS Safe and Drug-Free Schools coordinator and chairman of the Bullitt County Partners in Prevention program.

The meeting occurred after PIP received a renewed five-year Kentucky Drug-Free Communities grant for $125,000 annually. Funding from the grant could be implemented toward school resource officers salaries.

According to Reynolds, a tentative plan would allow PIP, through BCPS, to help provide the salary for an SRO from the Pioneer Village Police Department for full-time service at North Bullitt High School.

(North Bullitt is located within the Hebron Estates city limits. However, PVPD is contracted by Hebron Estates for police coverage.)

Reynolds said the plan would allow PIP to provide over 70 percent of the SRO’s salary, including benefits and retirement, with Pioneer Village responsible for the rest.

The chief said the city would have the option of hiring an SRO who will only work during the school semester, or they could hire an officer who would work for the city, performing regular police duties during summer months when school was not in session.

The idea was still in planning stages, Reynolds said, with another meeting planned to work out the issues.

He added that any officer hired for the SRO position, if the council decided to hire one, would need to be able to relate with students, and would likely need to be a seasoned professional rather than a new officer.

“We feel there is a need to be pro-active,” said Reynolds. “An officer in a school is a deterrent. We have to do this.”

In other business:

- Hatcher allowed for public feedback on newly-set city tax rates on real and personal property as well as public utilities.

The council set the rates at a special meeting prior to the September business meeting, with personal property and public utilities rates increased from 14.4 to 17 cents per $100,000 of property.

City attorney Mark Edison reminded that the two rates were required by law to remain the same, leading to both being increased.

According to Edison, the new rates would result in an increase of about $10,000 to the city.

The real property tax rate will remain the same, at 12.77 cents per $100 of property.

- The council unanimously approved the rezoning of a property located at 5204 N. Preston Highway from R-1 Residential to B-1 Business.

The 1.118 acres of property was requested for rezoning by owners Carolyn Keller and Ron Meadors.

Edison said the owners planned to use a house on the property as office space. 

- Hatcher mentioned discussions at previous meetings about adding a code enforcement officer to the city police department.

However, after further discussion with Reynolds, the mayor and the chief were now working on educating current officers on existing city code enforcement regulations.

A prepared ordinance to add a code enforcement officer was unanimously tabled by the council.

- Hatcher encouraged council members to begin considering plans and items for the next fiscal year budget.

Although the city has until June 30, 2019, to prepare its next budget, Hatcher wanted the council to consider items that may need to be included now, rather than having them come up at the last minute.

He mentioned property now owned by the city located next to Becknell Hall, suggesting the area be utilized in some way for the public, such as a walking trail. Playgrounds and benches were discussed, as well as searching for grant funding for such projects.

The council also discussed the city police department, with officers receiving the lowest pay rate of any police department in the county. Council members would like to make the wages more competitive, allowing for more officers to want to work for the department.

“We don’t want to lose our trained officers to other cities,” said council member Gary WIlson. “We want the best officers. We need to supply a good pay rate.”

- The council approved up to $200 for Darlene Herps to purchase candy for distribution at the annual Zoneton Fire Department event on Halloween night.

Herps has volunteered to pass out the candy each year since she was a member of the city council.

- The next meeting of the Pioneer Village City Council takes place Tuesday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m., at Becknell Hall on Summitt Drive. The public is invited to attend the meeting.