Danville gives first glance at possible changes in ’18-’19

Published 10:10 am Thursday, November 30, 2017

Danville City Commission covered a lot of ground during its marathon “retreat” meeting at Centre College Wednesday. Commission members and city staff discussed progress on numerous projects already in the works and speculated on future projects down the road; and they also discussed some changes that could wind up as part of the next city budget. Here’s a breakdown of some of those proposed changes:

• New staff: Mayor Mike Perros said he would like the city to hire an assistant city engineer to assist City Engineer Earl Coffey.

“One man cannot humanly cover” everything the city wants Coffey to do, he said.

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Perros said he also thinks the city needs to add a human resources position.

“As we grow, I think it’s time that we look into hiring an HR person because it’s a growing thing and I think there’s some liability that we have without any dedicated HR person,” he said. “That would be a step in the right direction, but even with all that, we’re still going to be operating on a thin basis for what all this organization does on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis.”

The city commission also discussed the possibility of hiring someone to write grants or otherwise figuring out a way to apply for more grants.

• Pension reform: City Manager Ron Scott, a former lobbyist in Frankfort, said he doesn’t believe there will be a special session of the Kentucky legislature to address pension reform this year. Instead, addressing the state’s pension deficits will “necessarily roll into the general session,” which starts in January, he said.

A big result of pension reform could very well be that the city will no longer be able to offer new employees pensions after they retire. Instead, they’ll probably have less desirable retirement plans similar to 401(k) plans. Scott said such a change would eliminate a big attractor of employees to the city, which might not pay employees as much as they could earn in the private sector.

“We’re going to have to be competitive with private industry in terms of pay, and that means we’re going to have to adjust pay scales going forward,” Scott said.

Danville may also need to reevaluate the health insurance it provides for its employees, Scott said.

• Cemeteries: City Commissioner J.H. Atkins said the city needs to determine how many different cemeteries are in-town and work to maintain all of them. One in particular, which Atkins said he calls the Kirby Lane Cemetery, is in substantial need of maintenance.

That cemetery is the burial place of Civil War soldiers and former slaves, among others, he said.

Attendees discussed how some cemeteries are “no man’s land” — ownership of the land is unclear.

Atkins said he believes many people don’t realize the city has quite a few more than its two big cemeteries — Hilldale and Bellevue.

“We need to figure out where these places are and get the deed (or) title ownership to them, and then start maintaining them,” Atkins said. “We need to decide about cemeteries. I think our cemetery committee just looks at two.”