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After Long Debate to Buy It, Bromley Council Votes to Get Rid of Bobcat

This story has been updated to clarify comments by a member of council.

The saga of the Bromley bobcat continued at last week's city council meeting.

It was a year ago that Mayor Donnie Jobe first suggested that the City of Bromley purchase its own bobcat, a vehicle used in maintenance projects. At the time, Jobe said that because the city rents a bobcat roughly ten times a year at a cost of $300 to $400 a pop, Bromley would quickly recoup the cost of approximately $30,000 to $35,000 to buy its own.

But by July, the issue became a contentious one at the city building. In August, council decided to go ahead and buy one. In January, council discussed whether the bobcat could be used by citizens, and ultimately it was decided that it could not be.

Last week, some council members said that the bobcat would not be used enough and that it should be listed as surplus property and put up for sale at no less than the cost the city spent to buy it in the first place.

"The bobcat should be a true city bobcat," said council member Nancy Kienker. She said that she checked with the city's insurance provider and that it was determined that, in fact, citizens could use it. But council member Gail Smith said that the code of ethics in the city would prevent it.

"If that's going to be the case, then I think we ought to sell it," Kienker said. "I don't think it's fair to the citizens, I don't think it's fair to anybody to have a piece of equipment that people pay for out of their money and then to tell them, no, you cannot use it because we have a law that says you can't."

Kienker later clarified that what she meant is that contractors or certified users of a bobcat could operate the equipment on citizens' behalf, and not that citizens would operate the bobcat.

Mayor Jobe was not present for last week's meeting, but in his executive powers, he has the option to overturn any action taken by the council on this matter. Kienker said that the bobcat was to be used for the forthcoming Main Street beautification project, but now it was not going to be to used for it. "We are going to have it all contracted out. The purpose that I agreed to purchase the bobcat under was, it was going to save the city money," Kienker said. "It's a big yellow elephant sitting in a garage not being used by anybody."

"I was approached by a citizen and I had to turn around and say, yeah, sorry, I know you want to clean up your property and boy, would we appreciate it, but you're on your own," Kienker said. "That puts us in a horrible light. That's us not taking care of our people."

The decision to sell the equipment passed by a vote of 4-1, with Smith abstaining. City attorney Kim Vocke said that the sale would include language that all bids could be rejected by council and that the price had to be more than what the city paid.

In other business, the city council continued to try to tidy up the way the city does business. Its website is closer to being finished, and a more responsible way to pay contractors was discussed. 

Council revisited two other issues that carried over from the previous meeting: that all council members should be permitted access to treasury records during office hours and that they can request relevant information from the city clerk or treasurer without permission from other officials, and that all bills paid can be reviewed by council members at any time, and that any invoice not related to regular monthly bills, including credit card purchases, must be presented to council.

The pair of ordinances were passed unanimously.

The City of Bromley remains under investigation by the Kenton County Police Department which raided the city building in February. Computers and documents were seized, but the nature of the investigation has not been made clear. Kenton County Police Chief Spike Jones told The River City News this month that there is still no update on the status of the investigation.

Council decided that it would continue to explore the possibility of returning Shelby Street to two-way traffic, noting that it was made one-way in the era of trolleys. It was measured by some council members and is the same size as other two-way streets in the city. Affected neighbors will be notified before formal action is taken.

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher