NEW LEXINGTON – A fire department pay raise, the installation of a new village administrator, and the return of some land to New Lexington High School were discussed at the July 7 meeting of the New Lexington Village Council.
Bo Powell, the current village administrator for New Lexington, will be retiring from his position July 30. Eric Emmert, a resident of Somerset, will be taking his place.
“I feel as though (Emmert was) the candidate who had the most well-rounded skill set, in the office, in the field; bridges roads, culverts, everything like that; along with contacts throughout the county, local, everything like that,” said New Lexington Mayor Trent Thompson. “So, I am going to ask council for a motion to appoint Mr. Eric Emmert as the next administrator.”
Due to Emmert’s residing outside New Lexington, the council had to waive the requirements for Emmert to live in the village. He will be training under Powell for the remainder of Powell’s tenure to learn the details of the position. It was suggested that he spend time with each department of New Lexington’s village government to better understand how the town operates.
“I’d like to say thanks to everybody,” Emmert said. “I look forward to working in the village and continuing what everybody started down there… There’s a lot of improvements going on, I look forward to continuing that, and I promise to do my best to fill the void that Bo is leaving in the village.”
In another issue raised at the meeting, Police Chief Scott Erving addressed concerns over the enforcement of two-hour parking on Main Street. The method currently used, the chalking of tires, has been declared unconstitutional on a federal level.
Tire chalking is a method of marking where a vehicle’s tire is sitting with a line of chalk, and then checking after an allotted time to see if it has moved. If a chalked car is still there and the chalk marks line up, then it is considered to have gone over the allotted time-limit for it to be parked in that spot.
Due to this change in policy, there is now an ongoing investigation into the possibility of installing parking meters to enforce parking. More “high-tech” methods are also being considered, but as of now Erving said, parking meters appear to be the most likely solution.
If parking meters are used, at least 75 meters would have to be installed to address parking needs. Roughly, a standard parking meter will cost $1,000, not counting maintenance cost and enforcement. While it is considered certain that parking meters would recoup their cost over time, the initial investment would be quite large.
“Over time I do think it will generate revenue, but I don’t know how long it will take to get the purchase cost back and then generate revenue,” Thompson said.
Possible raises for employees of the fire and EMS departments were also discussed. Currently, the estimated cost of raises is approximately $53,000, based on last year’s fire department financials. The expected cost of the raises is expected to be lower, with this year’s work force being lower in number and the total number of hours per week being worked by employees in the department being reduced by four.
Currently, the expected budget for the departments is $11,000. Adding $53,000 to that would potentially put the departments in the hole. Whether the city could afford the cost of the raise was hotly debated amongst the council.
There is possibly going to be a new water tower constructed on Swigert Road close to the cemetery. The land is part of a land bank parcel that was gifted to the city and Powell believes it would be an excellent place to construct a new water tower. Other uses for the land are also being considered.
The New Lexington School District reached out to village council requesting they return a section of land to the school. In 2006, land beside the school was given to the Village of New Lexington for the development of a fire station. The contract stated that if the land were not developed it would be given back to the school district after 25 years. The school asked for the contract to be quitted as there is currently no need for the village to develop a fire station, because it has one in town.
The school district plans to asphalt the area and use it to develop infrastructure. Village council voted unanimously to void the time requirement on the contract and return the land to the school district.