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City approves $12,500 annually for levee project

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By William Carroll

A packed house greeted the Taylorsville City Commissioners Thursday as several elected community members were on hand to see how the commission would vote on funding for the levee surrounding the city. After nearly an hour of discussion, the commission approved $12,500 per year to be paid towards the loan to repair and recertify the floodwall.
Seats filled up quickly as the meeting began at 4:30 p.m. with Spencer County Levee, Flood Control and Drainage District No. 1 President Mike Driscoll presenting the proposal before the commissioners with some help from Spencer County Judge Executive Bill Karrer. State Senator Jimmy Higdon was on hand as were magistrates Jerry Davis and Mike Moody and Joe Williams from Governor Steve Beshear’s office, as well as nearly two dozen other interested citizens and participants.
Driscoll told the commissioners that he and Karrer met with representatives from the Kentucky Association of Counties and that KACO had agreed to allow the county to borrow $500,000 which would be secured through a county “sinking” fund.
“We came up with a proposal on the payback, which was originally proposed on a five year basis,” Driscoll said. “Our plan is for $200,000 on the first loan with $300,000 additional for repairs if needed.
According to Driscoll, the terms of the loan would mandate that the principal could not be paid off before the end of a two year period.
“We made a verbal agreement that we would pay two yearly payments with interest and then we could pay it off after that if we chose to,” Driscoll said.
The terms of the loan would call for a 3.25 percent interest rate according to Driscoll.
“The levee commission has agreed to pay $25,000, we asked the county to pay $25,000 and today I am asking the city to pay $25,000 per year,” Driscoll said.
In support of his pitch to the city, Driscoll made note that city residents had already agreed to help fund the recertification.
“We raised our rates and right now we are at over 90 percent on our tax collections,” Driscoll said. “The people of the city have already bought in, now I am asking you to buy in.”
Driscoll also pointed out that the cost may be lower than anticipated depending on the amount of overlap that exists between the work DLZ Engineering did for the city to help with the city’s $1 million grant request with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
In response to a request from commissioner Jack Proctor, Karrer voiced the county’s position on the issue.
“The county is going to borrow up to $500,000,” Karrer said. “What we are concerned about is what are we going to do to pay this back? We are looking for assurances that the money is going to be there.”
Karrer suggested that the loan terms be ten years instead of five. Karrer said that gives ample time for the different entities to pay the loan back but would also give them the opportunity to pay the entire note back after two years of payments.
“Everything needs to be focused on paying the loan off as quickly as possible,” he said.
In response Don Pay said, “I don’t want anyone to think that the city doesn’t want to help.”
Pay then briefly discussed the city’s $1 million grant request and suggested that perhaps there may be funds left over to at least help with some of the issues on the levee.
Commissioner Beverly Ingram was concerned that approving any measure would result in city residents being forced to pay three times for the levee including city taxes, county taxes and levee taxes. Floodwall secretary Jan Deigl who said she owns property both inside and outside the floodwall, responded that owners of property outside the floodwall might wonder why their taxes should be used to repair the floodwall.
Just before the final vote, local property owner Scott Travis reminded residents of the 1997 flood and pointed out a sobering fact.
“Taylorsville was built in a floodplain, if there was no floodwall in 1997, people would have drowned,” he said.
Shortly thereafter the commissioners concluded the meeting by voting 4 to zero in favor of $12,500 for repayment of the floodwall loan. Commissioner Kathy Spears was absent from the meeting.