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Long-term debt could stop effort to dissolve Taylorsville

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Citizen gathers signatures required to put issue on the ballot, but could be thwarted because city owes $8 million

By Shannon Brock

A Spencer County citizen approached the Taylorsville City Commission at its meeting last week, saying he has the signatures needed to put the question of dissolving the city on the ballot.
However, a few words in the statute that sets forth the procedure of dissolving a city leave a question mark as to whether Taylorsville is a city that can be dissolved.
According to Kentucky Revised Statute 81.094(2), “A city, except for a city which has long-term debt, or any debt in excess of the assets of the city, shall be dissolved by the following procedure...”
The statute goes on to outline the procedure by which signatures are collected and verified by the county clerk and what it takes to get the question of dissolution before the voters, but eight words in the above excerpt are creating cause for question — “except for a city which has long-term debt.”
Even though Lawrence Trageser, a county resident, told commissioners last Tuesday that he has the 116 signatures required to put the issue on the ballot, the question remains as to whether the petition holds any legal authority given that Taylorsville has approximately $8 million in long-term debt.
City Clerk Steve Biven confirmed last week that the city owes millions of dollars in long-term debt.
At The Spencer Magnet’s request, city comptroller Randy McConnell provided a list of the city’s long-term debts which range in amounts from $28,750 to $1,578,000 for a total of $8,038,276.76. At least two of those bonds, stemming from the Phase III Water Project, will not mature until the year 2048.
Asked if he had considered the fact that Taylorsville has long-term debts, Trageser said Monday afternoon that he had.
“It’s reasonable to believe that there will be a legal challenge,” Trageser said, referencing what might happen if he turned the signatures in to the county clerk.
However, Trageser questions whether the long-term debt belongs to the city or to the water and sewer company.
“My argument is that the city would be dissolved, but water and sewer would not,” Trageser said.
Trageser also pointed to the Kentucky Constitution Bill of Rights, section 4, titled “Power inherent in the people — right to alter, reform or abolish government.”
In order to be considered for this year’s general election, the signatures collected on Trageser’s petition would have had to have been certified by the county clerk yesterday (the second Tuesday in August before a general election).
At last Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, Trageser said that although he had collected the needed signatures, he was holding onto them for now for a couple of reasons.
Trageser said as he collected the 116 signatures needed (20 percent of the 580 Taylorsville residents who voted in the last presidential election), he found that “the vast majority of people were disgruntled” with the city.
However, Trageser said that after watching the county government — which, by statute, would take over the city’s assets if it were dissolved — he wasn’t sure if the county was prepared for that responsibility.
Although Trageser said he has his qualms with the city government, he acknowledged at least one positive.
“The water does flow each day, and the sewer is treated,” he said.
Acknowledging a possible change in the city commission after this November’s election, Trageser said he would hold the petition for now.