MURRAY – Although a discussion had not originally been planned before the Murray City Council heard the first reading of an ordinance to reduce the size of the council, several members voiced their strong opposition to the proposal Thursday.
The council’s current standard operating procedure is to have first readings of ordinances without a vote or discussion, instead waiting for the second reading to debate the merits of the ordinance and take a vote. Ordinances must have two readings before they are officially adopted.
However, before Thursday’s first reading of a proposed ordinance to reduce the number of council seats from 12 to 10, Councilman Burton Young asked Mayor Bob Rogers if he could speak.
“We have lots of people, new people, that are interested in being on the city council, and here we are trying to limit the number of people that can be elected for some reason that I have no idea (about),” Young said. “I haven’t heard a good reason yet besides it might save a few dollars.”
Councilwoman Rose Ross Elder said she thought Young made some good points and that she thinks having 12 council members allows for diversity of viewpoints while still being a cohesive unit that works well together. Councilwoman Linda Cherry read from a prepared statement, saying she thought the council should be made up of a good cross-section of the population, comparing it to a 12-member “jury of our peers.”
“Our citizens want us to really listen to what concerns them, be it potholes, noise ordinances, unkempt property in neighborhoods, barking dogs running at large; the list is endless,” Cherry said. “I’m unaware that we have ever had to postpone or reschedule a committee meeting because someone on our council could not attend. And that’s what quorums are for anyway. Twelve elected council men and women serve two years before running for re-election. I just think it’s wrong to reduce the number to 10 council members because it will reduce our ability to serve our citizens.”
Councilwoman Alice Rouse agreed, saying she thought the council had worked well together during her time in office and she didn’t want to see that change.
“I feel like if we go down to 10, it limits the opportunity for other people to run,” Rouse said. “I think you have to have a heart for the community, and I think this council has.”
Councilman John Mark Roberts said Murray is a growing community and he hoped to see more people move here.
“As we increase in number, you’re saying decrease the number of council members? To me, that just doesn’t make sense,” Roberts said.
Earlier in the meeting, the council voted to approve a resolution to issue additional taxable industrial building revenue bonds for a project Kenlake Foods is undertaking. The order said the bonds are to finance the acquisition, construction and equipping of an industrial building within the city. The City of Murray is issuing up to $5 million maximum aggregate principal amount.
“This resolution is a cooperation on the part of all the taxing entities in our city to assist an industry that’s very important to our community, and that’s Kenlake Foods,” Rogers said. “This industrial revenue bond provides assistance to them to buy this equipment.”
The council also heard the first reading of an ordinance to annex a 8.241-acre tract of land owned by Paschall Truck Lines at 3200 U.S. 641 North, which is continuous to the city limits. Another first reading was held to zone the land as industrial. City Planner Carol Downey explained that PTL sent an annexation and zoning request to the city last month. Councilman Dan Miller said the company plans to build a new headquarters at the site, moving from its current location at U.S. 641 South, adding that it could bring more than 100 jobs into the city. Rogers confirmed what Miller said and added that the city is excited for the move.
The council also voted to authorize the mayor to sign documents for the purchase of 213 Elm St.
“If you’ll recall, recently we went into executive session and I shared with you that I had been approached by a gentleman who owns a piece of property adjacent to our water plant, and he was wanting to sell it,” Rogers told the council. “We talked to our folks at the water department (and asked), ‘Do you think that you would ever have a need for additional property?’ And they said, ‘We very well could.’ Well, if you very well could, you might ought to take a look at getting a piece of property that’s available while it’s available. So I negotiated with this gentleman and I’m in the process of finalizing that, but I would need your blessings in the form of a motion to allow me to proceed with that at whatever the appraised price is.”
In other business:
• Prior to the full council meeting, the Personnel and Finance Committee discussed what to do with the former Murray Police Department headquarters at 407 Poplar St. The committee had planned to accept or reject any bids for the building, but since the city received no bids, the committee voted to have City Administrator Jim Osborne contact a real estate agent to list the property for sale.
• The council passed a resolution honoring 50 years of service from the Kentucky Humanities Council, which brings humanities programs to communities. The resolution said Kentucky Humanities has made more than 2,600 grants to organizations in Kentucky totaling more than $9 million in the last five decades and has funded more than 15,100 events since it began tracking them in 1987. That includes Speakers Bureau presentations, Kentucky Chautauqua dramas, Kentucky Reads book discussions and other special events.
• Joe Pat Hudson was reappointed to the Architectural Review Board for a three-year term expiring Jan. 10, 2025.
• Janice Rose was reappointed to the Housing Authority Board for a four-year term expiring Jan. 10, 2026.
• Cheryl Crouch was reappointed to the Senior Citizens Board for a one-year term expiring Jan. 10, 2023.