Auditors give report of city’s finances

City Council guest speaker Jeremiah Evans
City Council guest speaker Jeremiah Evans

CORRECTION Feb. 12 – In an article on page 6 of the Feb. 12 issue, it was wrongly stated that Knox Pawn Shop was changing into a thrift store. It is not Knox Pawn, but the former City Pawn that will become a thrift store. We apologize to Knox Pawn for any inconvenience this may have caused.

By David Stewart

For the Mountain Advocate

Jeremiah Evans, youth pastor of The First Baptist Church, spoke prior the start of the February Barbourville City Council meeting. He informed the near capacity crowd that the former Knox Pawn shop is being turned into a “Live it” center (thrift store).

Evans said, “Just imagine a county with no needs.”

Local individuals, groups and churches are encouraged to donate to the non-profit organization that plans to open its doors March 28. Anyone wanting more information can call 622-1336 or 622-4259.

Jones, Nale & Mattingly presented an “unmodified opinion” of the city’s (June 30, 2014) finances. They reported there were no major deficiencies.

Mayor David Thompson said, “This is what we expected from this annual audit. I have faith in my clerks to account for the funds. The auditors do give us suggestions every year, and we try to implement them as to the best of our ability.”

The financial statement was accepted by the council.

Matthew B. Courtney, the Executive Director for the Bluegrass Center for Teacher Quality, reported that his organization was applying for a $300,000 grant to cover his organization’s three- year base expenses. He will apply part of the grant to rent a 750 square foot space to be used to further educate teachers (600 have already been trained). The council unanimously approved the city to be the fiscal agent for the grant.

Representatives from Union College asked the city to use its tax-free status and help them restructure some old loans into newer lower interest loans. The council was told “for one year this would tie up 4.6 million dollars of the city’s bonding ability. However, the city would never be obligated for any of the borrowed funds.” This gained unanimous approval.

Mayor Thompson, addressed the group, saying, “I like the way our downtown is improving. We have the Ugly Mug, Taylor Treasure, Oasis Pizza, Old Way Café and soon the new Italian themed restaurant. I encourage you, if you work for the city or courthouse, please leave storefronts open (for visibility) and park in the two city parking lots, (by Mitchell’s and in front of the jail). We must help our small family-owned businesses. They are the heart of any small town. I would also ask all of you to help our county find someone to lead the Health Coalition. They have accomplished great things for our area.”

Josh Callihan, of the Barbourville Utility Commission, told the group his team was trimming trees (away from power and utility lines) to protect future service.

“I wish we were able to do all of the projects (tree trimmings) that the citizens ask of us, but it just isn’t possible. We are also slowly changing our internet system over to a full digital system.  We ask for your patience at this time.”

The Street Department reported having plenty of salt left (no snow). They are currently working on street signs, cold patching potholes, and repairing recycle trailer.