City commission pushes for answers from county on Parks & Rec ordinance

Published 8:51 pm Wednesday, July 24, 2019

After there was no update to share during Monday night’s Danville City Commission meeting over the rewrite of the Parks & Rec ordinance, Mayor Mike Perros said the city and county “need to get off the dime on that.”

The city and Boyle County Fiscal Court are working on the Danville-Boyle County Parks & Recreation ordinance in order to settle the issue of who pays for what. Some magistrates are emphatic that the county should only be responsible for Millennium Park, which is jointly owned by the city and county.

City Attorney Stephen Dexter created a draft ordinance, he explained to the commission previously, which uses a system of buckets to line out what the entities are jointly responsible to fund, as well as what each will fund alone.

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The city and county have met to talk twice before to discuss an agreement over Parks & Rec, with both meetings turning contentious at times. After the second attempt, Dexter said he would write two draft ordinances — one showing a jointly funded system and the other outlining if the fiscal court only supports Millennium. However, he said it became too convoluted to write two separate ordinances. Instead, he created one he feels is easier for the county to make changes to as it sees fit.

The draft ordinance was forwarded to the fiscal court the second week in June.

“Stephen, can you reach out to Chris (Herron, Boyle County attorney)? Let’s get off the dime,” Perros said. “If we gotta have a joint meeting to talk, let’s talk.”

“I agree,” Dexter said. “I’m happy to reach out, in the same way that we’ve done in the past. However, I would say that a non-response is somewhat a response, unfortunately.”

When the fiscal court met in early July, it discussed magistrates forwarding all thoughts about the proposed ordinance to Herron as soon as possible, who then would work on developing a response and any changes the court would like to see.

Dexter said his hope is that the two entities can “continue to move forward” with the issue, but he added that “process is important. It’s incumbent upon them as a body to make a collective decision to make their position known. It’s not incumbent upon us to pull that position out of them.”

Dexter said that  “through their counsel and their leadership, they need to take a position and then make it known. I’m happy to communicate and request it again, but, you know, we’ve spoken many times about this very issue …”

“ … If we need to have a discussion to hammer some things out, that’s great …” Perros said.

Dexter said he’s happy to have those discussions, but he feels “it’s critical that we have a decision from their body to see what their position is. Because the interest of a particular magistrate is irrelevant if it’s not shared by a majority of magistrates.”

Previously, Magistrates Phil Sammons and Tom Ellis have been the most outspoken against the county funding any parks other than Millennium.

Dexter said attempting another joint meeting would be “unfruitful” without knowing how the fiscal court stands collectively.

Perros said he will reach out to Judge-Executive Howard Hunt “and ask him to get some kind of — to get it on their agenda for discussion.”

Dexter cautioned Perros. “It’s important that, as a body, they do that themselves. As a housekeeping matter … whatever their decision is, it needs to be theirs.”

Dexter also wanted to clarify that the county does have its own ordinance. He said there seemed to be some confusion within the fiscal court, based on the last article he read about its July 9 meeting.

“But it’s exactly the same as ours. That’s what a joint ordinance is. There was some confusion, ‘well we need to amend our ordinance, not their ordinance.’ Well, that’s technically true, but it’s the same. There’s no difference,” Dexter said he read comments “where the county may want to take their own stab at it. Of course, they’re entitled to do that.”

Dexter said if the fiscal court would like to make its own proposal, “they are certainly free to do so and this body will consider it — timely.” He said the city has acted and has pursued a proposed solution to various Parks & Rec issues “the most efficient way that we know how, at this point. The ball is in the — well, it’s in the court’s court.”

Dexter said he will be meeting with John Bell, the new Parks & Rec director, “to hear some clarifications on their end that may be necessary. And I’m hopeful that the court will speak as a body to the issue.”

The Parks & Rec ordinance was not discussed at the fiscal court’s meeting Tuesday morning.