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Council postpones 2nd budget reading

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Since Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead was in Las Vegas attending a conference to promote the city among businesses looking for a place to locate, Tuesday's city council meeting was chaired by Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath, the mayor pro tem.

At the meeting, the second reading of the city's budget for the fiscal year 2015-16 was deferred on a motion from Warmath. She asked that the vote be deferred for one council meeting to allow for a called work session to ask City Finance Commissioner Robert Springer to respond to questions that she and other councilors have.

The motion was seconded by Ward 1 Councilor Lanny Jewell, who said he also has some questions. Ward 3 Councilor Rob Cesternino then asked for assurance that if Warmath's motion passed, "this would be the last work session" after the city "has had five work sessions and already voted on first reading to pass the budget."

The deferral passed 4-2 with Cesternino and Ward 5 Councilor Tick Bryan voting no, and Ward 2 Councilor Fred Burton and Ward 4 Councilor Bernie Ash joining the majority.

Warmath asked that the work session be scheduled for next week.

'No reason to defer'
But Craighead, speaking by phone from Las Vegas after Tuesday night's council meeting, said he couldn't see any reason to defer the vote on the proposed budget's second reading.

The mayor will probably have to call a special session of the council to get the budget vote back on schedule, he said, since the new budget needs to be in place by June 30. He also said he had a very successful day at the conference.

Under state law, city budgets must be passed on three readings before the city council in order to take effect, rather than the customary two readings required for other ordinances.

Land swap gets first nod
The city council also approved on first reading Tuesday night an exchange of land with the county. Under the proposal, the city will receive the deed to the "Old Courthouse Property," a parking lot adjoining the Square, in exchange for the closure and abandonment of the right-of-way of Lake Street from East High Street to Rogers Avenue.

Lake Street runs directly behind the Wilson County Jail. The Old Courthouse parking lot is currently under a 25-year lease to the city. The agreement would make the lease void.

District 17 County Commissioner Gary Keith, chair of the county's Urban Facilities Committee, told the council that since the county commission has already approved the land swap, the council's final approval on second reading will complete the deal so long as his committee approves the details.

The council also voted unanimously on first reading Tuesday night:

 To purchase clothing and turnout gear for new hires for the fire department.

 To transfer funds to cover employee insurance costs, workmen's comp and other paid employee benefits.

'Check for cash' limits set
Plus, in other action, the council unanimously approved 14 items on second readingon the consent agenda. Those items include:

 Setting specific regulations limiting deferred presentment services ("check for cash" businesses) to commercial zones, at least 500 feet from residential zones and at least 1,320 feet apart.

 Rezoning 34.07 acres in Ward 4 on Highway 109 and Callis Road from low-density single-family residential (RS-20) and Commercial General (CG) to high-density multi-family residential (RM-6).

 Rezoning 31.34 acres in Ward 3 at 1625 and 1717 Franklin Road from rural residential (RR) and CG to RM-6.

 Amending Title 20 of the municipal code to match the recently adopted zoning code.

 Amending the RM-6 designation in the municipal code to set the allowed height of buildings at three stories.

 Changing the municipal code to allow medium industrial activity not as a permitted use but only as a conditional use in light industrial (IL) and planned business/industrial park (IP) zones.

 Renewing a contract with Bush Construction for gas system rehabilitation and improvements.

 Approving line item transfers for truck repairs and tires at the Water Department and for communications at the Police Department.

 Approving the purchase of a knuckle boom truck for the Street Department and a refuse truck for the Sanitation Department.

 Accepting a bid from Background Check Services.

 Authorizing payments to Regions Bank for filing the IRS forms for the $3.5 million Quality Energy Conservation Bonds loan for the gasification ("waste-to-energy") project and for making payments to the bondholders.

Writer Connie Esh can be contacted at cewrites@yahoo.com.

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