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Park Hills Debates Method for Replacing Council Members

Park Hills city council listened to the first reading of an ordinance which sets out a definite procedure for choosing new people to fill vacancies on council.   

The ordinance specifies that upon the occurrence of a vacancy in the offices of council or the mayor, the city clerk should promptly publish notice of the vacancy, along with a request that interested candidates should submit an application for the position.

The ordinance states that if an interested person had been a candidate in the previous election and received the most votes among the unsuccessful candidates, that person would be considered by council first.

Following that candidate, if he or she is not selected, each previously unsuccessful candidate who ran in the previous election shall get a vote from council in the order of how many votes they achieved in the election, highest to lowest.

If a candidate is still not selected, council may vote on candidates who didn't run in the previous election. No preference shall be given to a candidate based on when the candidate expressed their intent to apply for the vacancy.

Councilman Karl Oberjohn proposed the changes last November because he didn't think the voters' wishes were considered enough when council has had vacancies.   

He cited the last two vacancies, the first in 2012 where Greg Claypole was chosen to fill the seat vacated by Albert Fedders even though Steve Elkins was the next highest vote-getter. In 2015, Mark Cooper was chosen to fill the vacancy created by the death of Skip Fangman even though Jason Reser was the next highest vote-getter.

At the caucus meeting in November, Councilwoman Kathy Zembrodt immediately opposed the change, saying she felt the process the city had in place was fair.  

Councilwoman Pam Spoor didn't think it would work in the case of mayor, and the new legislation does not change much for choosing a new mayor. Claypole was not happy that Oberjohn had the city attorney draw up the legislation before consulting council on the issue. Elkins agreed with Oberjohn, saying he did not feel that the choices made by voters were given enough consideration. He said he had only been six votes short in the election, and he felt there should be more thought given to what the voters want.

Mayor Matt Mattone said that the issue would be further discussed at the next city council caucus meeting and that any council member with legal questions should raise them then or ahead of that meeting so that City Attorney Todd McMurtry could address them.

Council also passed an an ordinance establishing handicapped parking, and the requirements needed to acquire a spot.  

Council specified that it wanted a lower cost than the $100 put forth in the ordinance, and so it settled on $75. Council also decided that the additional doctor's verification was not necessary because that was a requirement to get a handicapped license plate, and the city didn't want people to have to repeat the process. 

A resolution passed promoting Jeffrey Hagedorn to police sergeant.  

Councilman Jason Reser was appointed as the city's representative to Planning & Development Services with Karl Oberjohn selected as a an alternate.

Mayor Mattone gave an update on the information he received at the Kenton County Mayors Group meeting Saturday which focused on the rising costs of pension contributions for cities. He told council that because the legislators don't want people to blame them for raising taxes in order to fix the challenge, the General Assembly has pushed it to the cities to raise taxes to pay the extremely hefty bills, knowing that the cities have limited power to raise taxes.   

Mattone said that teachers are in Frankfort trying to change the governor's and legislators' minds, and he thought maybe representatives from the cities should go there, too. The Kentucky League of Cities is trying hard to make a difference, he said, but the legislature seems determined not to take the blame in any way.   

Citizens are encouraged to call their legislators, the mayor said.

The Notre Dame Academy soccer team was honored for being 35th district champions, as well as Ninth Region Champions, and for being runner up in the state last fall. The team is comprised of seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen, and they were present with their gigantic trophy and their coaches to receive the honor and receive appreciative applause.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor

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