Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

May 8, 2014

Commission approves raises

Board passes 3 percent salary increase for Ashland city employees

ASHLAND — The Ashland Board of City Commissioners on Thursday approved an across-the-board 3 percent salary increase for all city employees.

The raises will be retroactive to April 1. The fiscal year ends on June 30 and a new budget takes effect on July 1.

The current budget did not include employee raises, and the understanding was the commission would revisit the matter later “once we got a handle on the funds we had coming in,” Commissioner Larry Brown said.

The raises will have an impact of $107,000 on the current budget, Finance Director Tony Grubb said, adding it had been nearly two years since workers had last received salary increases.

Asked by Brown whether he thought the raises would place an undue strain on the budget, Grubb replied: “We look pretty strong across all the funds. I’d like to see improvement in the utility fund. But, as far as the 3 percent increase, there’s no question in my mind these funds can support it.”

Workers could see the amounts in their paychecks increases again when the new budget takes effect. According to Grubb, an additional 3 percent raise would have a budgetary impact of $329,707 for fiscal year 2014-15.

In an unrelated matter, the commission heard a resident express concern about the proposed project to develop hiking trails on property along Ashland Avenue that was deeded to the city in 1978 by Charles and Betty Russell for use as a nature park.

Steven Feierstein, who lives on Hillcrest Road, said his major worry was that having more people on the site would increase the likelihood of brush fires there. He said there were a number of “old trees” on the site that could easily be ignited by carelessly discarded cigarettes or matches.

“If that should happen, we’re going to have a major fire,” Feierstein said, also noting that there was only one fire hydrant in close proximity to the site.

However, City Manager Ben Bitter told Feierstein that concern and many others had been addressed in a study of the proposed project conducted by city staff. The fire department concluded having trails on the property would actually make it easier for them to fight any fires that might occur there, he said.

“They would have greater access ... which would allow them to get down to where the fire is occurring,” he said.

Based on the results of the study, the commission voted in March to move ahead with the project.

Mayor Chuck Charles has said he believes the site can be developed at minimal cost using the combined manpower of the local service clubs, along with the local National Guard, and school, Scouting and church groups. Also, the project would allow Ashland to seek official designation as a “Kentucky Trail Town,” which could help to generate tourism, according to the mayor.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

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