January 15, 2013
MARTIN — The Martin city council voted unexpectedly last Thursday to table further discussion of renewing the lease of the Martin Community Center with the Floyd county Fiscal Court.
There were more than a few surprised faces in the city council chamber Thursday when a motion by April Gayheart to table the matter of the community center until the council could more thoroughly look at its liabilities passed by a slim margin.
Gayheart said the council needs to look at the costs and liabilities associated with operating the community center before entering into another lease with the county. Gayheart said questions about whether or not the Housing Authority would use the building again, or if the county would help pay some of the utilities, need to be addressed.
Council members Eulene Ratliff, Mahendra Varia and Bobby Dingus, along with Gayheart, voted to table the matter. Only new Councilman James Reynolds voted against the motion.
During discussion of the motion, newly-elected Mayor Sam Howell pointed out that the city’s next regularly scheduled meeting falls after the next meeting of the fiscal court. The move by the council could potential forestall the community center opening for another month, or as Howell and others speculated, could allow for another party to secure a deal with the county.
Also during Thursday’s special meeting, council members looked at the city’s current past due balance owed to the Prestonsburg City Utilities. According to utility records, the city of Martin had not made a payment to Prestonsburg City Utilities since Oct. 15. “What really concerns me,” said Howell. “is we still billed, still collected money.”
Council members wanted to look at ways to begin paying the balance and asked Howell if an agreement could be worked out with the utility company to waive the penalties while they try to make good. “When you see a balance like this, the penalties are enormous,” Gayheart said.
Howell also brought up the matter of the city’s current wastewater treatment woes. Howell said that the city had to cough up $12,650 Thursday for the bond payment. Howell said that the city will also have to deposit $3,500 into an account at the first of each month to cover the bond principal and interest each month.
Howell said officials with the Division of Water suggested to him that the city of Martin “might want to get out of the water and sewer business altogether.” Howell said at this time he still feels it is in the best interest of the city to continue operating the water and sewer treatment plants.