During Monday's monthly meeting of the Harlan City Council, Mayor Danny Howard said initial plans for the parking structure will be discussed then as representatives of DLZ Kentucky Inc., a Frankfort-based architectural and engineering firm, present preliminary drawings of the facility. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. at the Harlan Center.
"We'll look over it and see where we can go from there," Howard said.
At least $500,000 has been secured in federal funds for the two-story endeavor, which is expected to establish an estimated 175 parking spaces, as well as new facilities for city hall, police and transportation services. Plans are to build the parking structure near the Harlan Center, with the front view facing Clover Street. Additional parking may also be available for the Harlan Center, nearby justice center and Harlan Christian Church.
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers helped secure the federal funding, which will cover the engineering and architectural phases of the project, Howard said. More funding will be sought from various sources, including the state's Transportation Cabinet, Administrative Office of the Courts and Homeland Security, he said.
The council unanimously agreed to move along with plans for the facility last August after Howard said that funding for the project would be awarded to another city if not utilized in Harlan. He has said he has "the assurances" that the city will obtain the extra $3 million to complete the project, at no cost to the city.
"We looked for ways we could meet the needs within our community and still not bankrupt the community, not raise the taxes in the community, but still provide the services we feel we need," Howard said in an earlier report on the parking structure. He has also said that grants for special projects are "drying up."
Howard said the information to be presented by the city's architectural firm on Thursday will be "very preliminary" and "will show us what we can afford." He said the city will begin to submit grant applications for the remainder of the project this summer and, if all goes well, the project could be complete by the fall of 2008.
In other news, the council:
-- Discussed a possible garbage rate increase. Howard said he has filed a Freedom of Information Act with the Harlan County Fiscal Court to get a better understanding as to why the county's garbage tipping fee is considerably higher than other nearby counties'. He said the average tipping fee is $27 per ton, compared to the county's $41. That may cause the city to increase its garbage pickup rate by $6; the rate is currently set at $10.50 per month, which includes two weekly pickups.
Howard said the council will consider creative solutions to the problem, such as reducing the weekly pickups, before imposing a rate increase, and will be researching what is covered in the county's $41 tipping fee.
"I think it would be neglection on our part not to ask questions," Howard said. "We're just in an exploratory stage. I realize the high costs, and I really feel that $41 is excessive."
Charles Guyn, the city's financial adviser, said the problem "is getting to the critical point."
-- Discussed personnel policy changes, including increasing employees' travel expenses and mileage reimbursement rates to state standards and changing some classification titles within the police department.
-- Accepted a report from Paul Miller, of Leo Miller and Associates, regarding the Grays Knob sewer project, an estimated $538,824 endeavor that will extend services to approximately 125 homes, as well as the KCEOC Child Development Center and Hall Elementary School. Miller said pump stations for the project are awaiting power supply from Kentucky Utilities. He also said the new Harlan County Detention Center in Verda is the only user of a recently extended sewer line from Harlan to Ages. A list of residents in the Ages-Bottom area is being compiled to begin procedures for more hookups, he said.
-- Proclaimed April 7-April 21 as spring cleanup, to run in conjunction with PRIDE's (Personal Responsibility In a Desirable Environment) 2007 spring cleanup.
-- Approved a motion to accept $78,695 from the state's Transportation Cabinet for resurfacing projects for various city streets, including sections of Marsee Drive, Ivy Hill Ridge Road, Meadow Drive, Railroad Street, Kelley Street, Woodland Hills and Timbercrest.
-- Approved resolutions to submit funding requests to the state's Transportation Cabinet and Renaissance on Main program for sidewalk upgrades and lighting infrastructure in downtown Harlan. Elizabeth Powell, executive director of the Harlan Revitalization Association, presented the information, and also reported that several outdoor activities, including movies at Huff Park and music competitions, are planned for this summer.
"It's going to be a good summer for the city of Harlan," Powell said.
-- Entered into executive session to discuss personnel matters. No action was taken.
-- Bob Yost, manager of the Harlan Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility, said more Sunshine residents are hooking onto an extended sewer line in the community after a slow response to the $1.4 million PRIDE project that was designed to serve 300 homes. He said residents of the Ages area who have questions about hooking onto the Harlan-Ages sewer line can visit him at city hall between 8 a.m. and noon every Friday.
-- Howard said the city's all-hazards warning sirens have been installed.
The next regular meeting of the Harlan City Council will be April 9 at 7 p.m. at the Harlan Center.