MURRAY — Murray City Council members Thursday took the first step toward increasing the city’s stormwater fee amount that has gone unchanged since its inception in 2003. 

By unanimous vote, the council asked City Attorney Warren Hopkins to begin drafting an ordinance  that will take the fee from $1.50 per month for residents to $3.50, which is 4 cents below the average of Kentucky cities. This came about a month after a presentation from Councilman Dan Miller after he was asked to look at the issue by Murray Mayor Bob Rogers. 

The current fee generates about $240,000 a year for the city’s effort to guide the water produced from storms through the city and to the Clarks River. The proposed higher fee would generate about twice that, and the city’s stormwater coordinator, James Oakley, said Thursday that this would help his situation immensely. 

“The biggest thing for me is I just want to fix more projects and have everything drain properly,” Oakley said Thursday afternoon in a joint meeting of the council’s Personnel and Finance and Public Works committees at City Hall. 

Oakley expressed frustration at times Thursday, especially at being faced with a schedule that includes 48 projects this year, only a small fraction of which will probably be completed. Those projects are worth about $1.3 million. 

The way things are now, he said it would take somewhere between 10 to 11 years to complete those projects. 

“Based on my projections, and of course with the help we would get in house (from the stormwater field office) and the street department, we should more than double the number of projects we do have now,” he said, adding that from his experience, the annual schedule always must include five to seven projects that are not scheduled, further hampering his office. 

He said this also puts him in an uncomfortable position at times with the people he is serving. 

“We get so far behind, then we have other issues that supersede the project we’re already working on, and this is after I’ve talked to a resident and told them, ‘We’ll get to it at this time,’” he said. “Then, I have to call that individual again to tell them we’re having to go handle something else. Those are situations that are hard to deal with.”

Oakley said many of the problems he is facing stem from deteriorating infrastructure, even in newer subdivisions of the city, something about which Councilwoman Pat Seiber asked when she noticed the number of projects listed for 2019 that were not in older parts of the city.

“I’ve got $20,000 in the budget this year just because of holes forming in the infrastructure in those places alone,” he said of how cameras his office possesses have detected these problems. “In my opinion, most of that is insufficient infrastructure. For example, maybe the pipes that were put in (during the subdivisions’ creation) were too small and now the bands around those pipes have popped (due to increased pressure from water flow). Back then, the best material they probably had was concrete, which will crack over time. The best metal pipe they had was galvanized, and if those were built in ’65, they’re past the end of their lives.

“Again, I just want to fix it.” 

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The council approved several bids for various projects Thursday.

By unanimous vote, council members approved a $207,921.88 bid from Eddyville’s Herring Construction to handle water main projects on Elm Street and Squire Road, as well as a big for more than $1.3 million from Cleary Construction of Tompkinsville for two sewer replacement projects — one  from Mimosa Drive to U.S. 641 South and another from Mockingbird Lane to 641 South.

In addition, council members also approved a bid for $39,765 from Murray’s CDM Construction for repairs to the roof of the Murray Police Department headquarters building. This will result in application of what is known as a TPO membrane that is expected to seal the roof that is reportedly having leaks. 

Also Thursday, the council approved a $269,088 from Murray’s David Taylor Chrysler Dodge Ram Fiat to handle the incorporation of eight 2020 Dodge Chargers and one Dodge Durango SUV for the MPD fleet. That figure takes into account trade-in, as well as equipping the vehicles with such features as emergency lighting and other accessories.  

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