City faces river levee inspection deadline

All earthen levees, like this one in Barbourville, have to be inspected by September 2015.
All earthen levees, like this one in Barbourville, have to be inspected by September 2015.

By David Stewart

In 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the far south, it cost billions in damages. Now, that same storm is indirectly costing local taxpayers in the city of Barbourville.

When the Barbourville City Council met Dec. 3, Katrina showed up and continues to still cost the taxpayers. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) mandated a non-funded inspection of all United State earthen levees. This inspection has to be completed by September 2015.

The council approved a proposal by Summit Engineering to inspect the levees that protect the city from a flooding Cumberland River. Having a proposal does not mean a contract was signed. The council is now looking for ways to cover the $130,000 cost.

The mayor pointed out that the League of Cities would loan that amount at a 6% interest. He also said that, he had personally spoken to Congressman Hal Rogers and Senator Mitch McConnell and had asked both of them to help Barbourville pay for the inspection. If the levees aren’t inspected by September, the result will be the people of Barbourville inside the floodplain will have to start buying flood insurance. West also said that he knew that Barbourville was further along with its inspection of Harlan and Williamsburg.

The Council also approved its side of the Occupational Tax Agreement. The Knox Fiscal Court is supposed to vote on its part of the agreement at its next meeting.

West said, “This is the same agreement we have had with the county in the past. The funds obtained from the Occupational License Fee will be split 25% to the city and 75% to the county. This agreement will be binding until the end of 2018.

Prior to the meeting’s end, Mayor West called for a vote on approving the Park and Recreation’s suggested pricing for waterpark entry in 2015; kids 12 and under will be $6 and $8 for all others.

The date for the Martin Luther King parade was set for January 15.