City Commission approves budget, hears park pitch

Published 10:50 am Wednesday, June 28, 2023

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The Nicholasville City Commission approved the second reading of ordinances amending the city’s budget for the fiscal year 2023-2024 and heard a pitch for a new park from Jessamine County Public Library employees during its most recent meeting.

Budget and utility rates

As reported by the Journal on June 19, the Commission made some small changes to the city’s budget and increased utility rates.

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Rates will increase the average residential water customer’s monthly bill by $1.23 per month (per every 4,000 gallons used); the average residential sewer bill will increase by $3.42 per month (per every 4,000 gallons used); and the average residential electric bill will increase by $2.00 per month (per each 1,100 kWh used). Property tax rates have been the same since 2010 and are not changing in this year’s budget.

Increased budget allocations include a wage increase for city employees to pay them enough, relative to the higher cost of living. Also, the city has increased its budget allocations for parks and recreation, downtown improvement projects, and street and paving projects.

Pitch for a new park

Library Community Connections Librarian Les Lehman and Events Coordinator Kate Irwin pitched the idea for a new city park to the Commission and asked for the city to create a committee to consider the idea.

The proposed park would be located in Riney B. Park and would support a concept that many grown adults experienced in their childhoods that children don’t get to experience today – open-ended, physically challenging unstructured play. Lehman said this play doesn’t happen with adult supervision, on the playground, in athletics or in front of a screen.

Playing in a natural environment, Lehman said, can boost kids’ confidence in taking risks and challenges and helps reduce their level of stress. She said that kids spend up to six hours a day on a screen.

Irwin said this park would look like a more unstructured version of the Bernheim Forest.

Commissioner Patty Teater said that the city has already approved its budget allocation to parks and recreation, which the library is looking to work with on this project.

Lehman and Irwin said they understand this and reiterated that they are just looking for the city to create a committee to discuss the details of the park idea, including supplies and price.

Commissioner Dexter Knight agreed to begin the committee.

In Other News:

• Dawn Whitehead has been reappointed to the code enforcement board for another three-year term.

• Chris Love has been hired as a temporary full-time police officer at the rate of $29.49.

• In response to Chief Todd Justice getting ready to retire, the Commission approved the natural promotions for the leadership team of the Nicholasville Police Department. Michael Fleming will be promoted to Police Chief at the hourly rate of $46.60. Matt Marshall will be promoted to Assistant Chief at the hourly rate of $40.38. Andrew Stag and Alexis Jones will be promoted to Captain at the hourly rate of $38.03.

• The Commission also approved two lateral hires at the police department. Chase Bowman as Detective at the hourly rate of $23.62 and Jordan Lewis as Police Officer at the hourly rate of $25.50 pending results of a drug test, physical and background check.

• The Commission approved Josiah Silverman and Isaac Frazier as Fire Department recruits at the hourly rate of $13.90 pending results of a drug test, physical and background check.

• David Tannis has been approved for hire as a firefighter at the hourly rate of $15, pending results of a drug test, physical and background check.