04/07/09 — Pikeville tightens town spending

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Pikeville tightens town spending

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on April 7, 2009 1:46 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Pikeville town commissioners want to put a hold on spending for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, unless the expenditure is absolutely necessary, commissioners said Monday night.

Commissioner Vance Greeson said he didn't want to see money being spent just because it was in the budget.

He added that the town is losing money on utilities with people cutting back as much as they can.

"I'm opposed to increasing rates," he said.

But he said that the town needs to do something to keep spending under strict control.

"For the next three months, I say we cut expenditures and only spend on necessary items," Greeson said. "I think we need to hold the line on stuff and show our efforts.

"We need to put a freeze on budgeted items."

Commissioner Lyman Galloway said the board needs to do something with the Town Hall building, which has structural problems, including a leaking roof.

Just on Monday, he said, staff had to use several 5-gallon buckets to contain the dripping water from the ceiling.

Mayor Herbert Sieger said the town's employees that work there "had to have an umbrella to get across the rooms without drowning."

But Greeson said he believed that should be addressed in next year's budget.

Galloway asked who would decide what necessary spending was and suggested having Town Administrator Kathie Fields come to the board with a particular spending request instead of "just flat freezing" the entire current budget.

"If we freeze everything, we take the pressure off of her," Greeson said.

"There's pressure either way," Galloway said.

Commissioner Dennis Lewis said that freezing every expenditure across the board would "cut (Ms. Fields') feet out from under her."

"Let's give her the room to grow and become the town administrator we all know she can be," Lewis said. "Kathie is doing a good job, and I will not cut her feet out from under her."

Greeson told the group that he had previously spoken with Ms. Fields, and that he didn't want to usurp her authority.

"This (motion to freeze spending) helps her," Greeson said.

When town employees would say, "Well, it's in the budget -- why can't we spend it?," Greeson said it would be easier for Ms. Fields to just tell them that the commissioners decided upon that action.

Commissioner Todd Anderson told the group that he would prefer they leave the decision to Ms. Fields.

"Instead of having a fiat, can we just let Kathie use the good sense we all know she's got and tell her to be real careful?" he asked.

The board finally approved freezing expenditures except those that are necessary to keep the town in business, with Ms. Fields deciding which ones are deemed absolutely necessary.

Commissioners also discussed the Pikeville Pleasant Grove Volunteer Fire Department's request to rescind its voluntary annexation request.

The department requested annexation for the new fire station on the corner of Pikeville Princeton Road and Hooks Grove Church Road into city limits in March.

But last week, the department rescinded that request.

Town officials said that they believe the department still wants to be annexed but would like to see the process move quicker.

The board of commissioners and the fire department board will meet next Tuesday to discuss the annexation request.

The town also is working with the Pikeville Post Office to provide post office box delivery of street addressed mail to town residents where door delivery is not provided.

Ms. Fields said that the town is providing the office with a list of street addresses, and the post office is working on updating its database to link residents' street addresses to their post-office box addresses.

In other business, commissioners approved parking two surplus vehicles -- a bucket truck and a garbage truck -- behind Town Hall, taking the insurance and license plates off the trucks and putting them out for sale to local individuals or companies; discussed the addition of three or four new police officers to the department to ensure 24-hour town coverage but deferred action to the budget workshop on April 21; and approved an agreement with ElectriCities to act on the town's behalf to ensure that it is up to standards for renewable energy under law.