The tax, which generates approximately $50,000 - $60,000 monthly, and funds the Leitchfield Tourism, is generating more money than the council originally projected. Councilman Steven Elder said the council first thought the tax would generate approximately $500,000/year but has exceeded those figures. Elder also pointed out that the tax revenue has grown over the past year, making the case that restaurant business is not down, as the Owner of Farmers Feed Mill, Winston Davis, claimed during the meeting.
Winston Davis spoke to the council, asking them to repeal the tax, stating his has seen a loss in business, saying he could prove his numbers are down.
However, there were citizens in the crowd who spoke in support of the tax, and the future progress it will make in the tourism portion of the city.
Larry Darst and his wife, Cathy, each spoke to their satisfaction with the “progressive” decisions the council has made in the past few years and said they are pleased with the new pool that the Leitchfield Tourism Commission has agreed to move forward with. Larry called the Restaurant Tax the “fairest” tax to create revenue for the city since it’s a tax that you can choose to pay by choosing to eat-out, and it’s not only Leitchfield citizens who are paying the tax.
Dot McCall, who served as a councilmember for more than 10 years in the past and currently sits as a Leitchfield Utilities Commissioner, also spoke of her support of the tax saying, “You either generate revenue this way or we get our property taxes increased or our garbage and recyclable rates increased.”
Rick Embry, a local business owner, said his father – who was the city treasurer in the 1960’s and 1970’s - brought the idea of the occupational tax to the Leitchfield City Council in the 1960’s, and he has been told that his father’s biggest contribution to the City of Leitchfield was the occupational tax idea. Embry likened the restaurant tax to the occupational tax and said he would like to the see the new pool concept built.
Ann Huff, who regularly attends the council meetings, read a prepared letter to the council stating that she felt the tax was a burden saying, “I do not understand how this city council can justify passing such an enormous burden on those of us who eat out. A swimming pool that is only going to be used a few months out of the year is a ridiculous thing to spend so much money on.” Huff said she would like for the tourism to find a way to financially stand on their own feet and raise their own funds. She did later in the meeting say she would “have no problem” with the tax if it was used to rehab the old Alice Theatre.
Jay Dinwiddie, son of the late Jim Dinwiddie and new owner of the Alexander Hotel and Alice Theatre, pleaded a case for the tax to remain intact with the hopes it will be used to restore the Alice Theatre and Alexander Hotel. He stated he was afraid if the tax was eliminated the rehab project will never happen and the building will be sold to investors who will use it for low income housing.
Councilman Jerry Schlosser questioned Dinwiddie about the city’s connection to the rescue of the historic building. He mentioned he would hope private investors would step up and make a commitment to the restoration of the theatre.
After much discussion, Councilman Schlosser made good on his campaign promise and made a motion to repeal the tax. Schlosser, Councilwoman Margaret Fey and Councilman Harold Miller voted to repeal the tax. Councilmen Billy Dallas, Steven Elder, and Raymond “Tooty” Cottrell voted against repealing the tax. Mayor William Thomason had to break the tie and voted to keep the tax intact.
Councilman Harold Miller said he had promised to represent the people of the community and he had heard overwhelming complaints about the tax while he was campaigning. He said since the election he has heard people in support of the tax, but the majority of the comments he has listened to are in favor of repealing the tax. Miller said, “Once we make this decision, my desire is that we move forward with business in the city and better the city. I don’t think anything we say, that anybody here says or on the council says, is going to change where we stand. I hope we can get through this in a good manner and get on with the business of the city.”
In other city business:
Former councilman Kelly Stevenson was appointed to the Leitchfield Tourism Commission. A seat left vacant with the December resignation of Jose Soto.
The council appointed the following non-elected city officers:
City Clerk/Treasurer: Erin Embry
City Attorney: Kenneth Smart
City Police Chief: Bart Glenn
City Fire Chief: Carl “Moon” Smith
City Department Heads:
Public Work Director: Darrell Harrell
Public Works Superintendent/Zoning Administrator: Shelia Puckett
The council selected Councilwoman Margaret Fey as Mayor Pro Tem.
Lambert Decker asked the council if he could have the fire department burn an old house he purchased near the Grayson County Fairgrounds, just for cleanup purposes. Fire Chief Carl “Moon” Smith said he would look at the house and make an evaluation if it can be submitted as a controlled burn that can be used for training purposes.
The railroad crossing on Old Brandenburg Road will permanently close on Monday, Jan. 28th at 8:00 a.m.
The city agreed to use the ADF (Area Development Funds) for signage at the James D. Beville Park. A sign that would display all park rules at the entrance. Harrell said the two years worth of funds totaled less than $1500.
Ilsa Johnston, Leitchfield Tourism Director, updated the council on the tourism commissioners decision to move forward with an outdoor aquatic area. The pool will be 5,000 square feet of water with 2 -3 lap lanes, lazy river, shallow play area with interactive play equipment and a slide. The outdoor area will also have a pavilion area. She said the partnership they were hoping to have with the school district for an indoor pool fell through due to budget constraints, leaving the tourism commission unable to fund the yearly operational costs of an indoor facility.
In December, Leitchfield Police Officer Tim Moutardier was recognized by the Governor’s Highway Safety Division for his apprehension of impaired drivers. Moutardier was recognized during the council meeting for his state recognition.