The Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington is planning to pay off its note on Cardome by November Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather told the city council Monday night.

The city and the church entered into an agreement on the Cardome property in 2016 when the Diocese and St. John and St. Francis parishes approached the city about reacquiring the property that once was owned by the Catholic church. The sides agreed to enter into a long-term, 20-year capital lease where the annual payments of $50,100 per year would subtract from the original purchase price of $1 million.

However, tentative plans are for the church and city to formalize the payment of the lease in full on Nov. 24.

“The Catholic church has been working diligently to try and pay off the debt to the city they have through the capital lease and it looks like they are going to get it paid off this calendar year,” Prather said.

The proposal the mayor is pitching to the council is that the entire $1 million the city receives be kept intact and set up as an endowment and spend the annual proceeds on Yuko-En on the Elkhorn and Royal Spring Park.

“This goes back to the $1 million gift Toyota gave to the community when the plant was dedicated. We used that gift as a downpayment for Cardome and made some code repairs that had to be made,” Prather said. “And 30 years later, we were able to work out a deal for Cardome to be returned to the church and the city to regain the $1 mlllion gift. And since the gift was intended for community use, I think it would be appropriate to maintain the principal amount and spend the annual interest from the endowment on the parks the community benefits from.”

The money could be just put in the general fund, but Prather fears that the original intent of the gift would just disappear if the money is used on general operating expenses. Prather made the suggestion to the council to start thinking about future action. 

Even though the church will own Cardome with short-term plans for a new school and long-term plans for a new church, the kite festival and other community events will still be held at the site.

Council also approved the new tax rate on second reading on a 6-2 vote. Karen Tingle-Sames and Polly Singer Eardley cast the no votes. The new rate will bring in around $31,000 in new revenue, Prather said. The proposed 2019 rate is 6.4 cents per $100 of assessed value. The 2018 rate is at 6.3 cents per $100 of assessed value. For a $100,000 home it increases the property tax $1 for the year and for a $200,000 home it is a $2 increase for the year, Prather said at an earlier meeting. 

The state compensating rate, which is the tax rate that brings in the same amount of money as last year, would be 6.2 cents. Council can increase the real dollar revenue of property taxes 4 percent, and the 6.4 cent rate allows the city to do that. At the first reading, city staff presented a comparison of the property tax rates to cities of similar size. The average is .232 cents, and Georgetown is the lowest with the next lowest rate at .12.

Council also approved a resolution withdrawing Georgetown from the Kentucky Regional Cable Commission. The city has been part of the regional cable consortium for several years.

“We are the largest city in the consortium, and we find our needs are very different from the other cities,” said Prather, adding they retain the director for other issues. “We see little value in staying part of that. It’s $2,500 a year, but it is $2,500 a year.”

In other discussion:

— The bypass is coming along at a remarkable pace. Prather said crews anticipate having the base course of blacktop laid before cold weather. 

“I’ve never seen a project move as fast as the bypass is,” he said.

— The road at Lane’s Run Business Park has been paved from Cynthiana Pike to Cherry Blossom. The plan is to finish blacktopping the road this year and water lines will be placed soon.

— There is a local committee working on the 2020 Census along with the county judge-executive office.

— Approved several items related to Georgetown Municipal Water & Sewer Service. There was a first reading of a bond anticipation note ordinance with Kentucky Bank.

“When we did our rate study and brought it and the budget to the council in July, we chose a rate scenario on utilizing some of our borrowing capacity. Based on the budget and rate scenario, we were going to need a $6 million line of credit to be initially used for the design of the wastewater treatment plant expansion and initial construction costs,” said Chase Azevedo, GMWSS general manager. “After we received the bid, we realized it was more resembled a bond anticipation note instead of a line of credit because we were borrowing against one time and roll it into the bond and pay it off.”

Council also approved a new phone and internet contract that will save GMWSS nearly $500 a month, along with a contract for a sludge processing design contract. The project was identified as something that needed to have something happen immediately in its capital needs project list. 

Prather was concerned that the winning company was picked by low bid, and asked if the utility would consider low bid and pre qualifications for future projects.

“I think with the aggressive nature of our five-year plan I don’t think we can get it done if we individually bid out each project. If we establish a list of pre-qualified companies, that will help,” Azevedo said. 

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