GLASGOW – Turnout was light for the first of Mayor Harold Armstrong's town hall meetings that were among his goals as he campaigned last year, but the discussion still lasted more than an hour.
Most of the talk was about the Glasgow Electric Plant Board.
Armstrong aims for residents of each quadrant of the city to have a gathering just to focus on concerns for their respective parts of town, so the idea is for those individuals to be able to make comments or ask questions first, and any others who attend would have turns as time permits.
Wayne Harp said several people he knows want to come to a council meeting and talk about the question of whether the Glasgow Electric Plant Board should sign a 20-year-exit-notice contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority. He said the city “is losing people, daily” implying that it's because of the GEPB's rates.
“We understand that, and speaking to the city council won't do a bit of good,” Armstrong said.
Harp said they've discussed trying to get a local referendum on the ballot to sell the municipally-owned utility.
“That won't work either, but you're welcome to do that,” the mayor said. “The only way we're going to fix the electric plant board is through a consultant that can tell us what the avenues are …, because the way it is now, they've got themselves to where nobody would buy the electric plant board. There's some possibilities of merging with some other utility companies, but by the next meeting, I'm going to hopefully, I can [get] somebody to that meeting that can shed some light on everything.”
He explained, though, that the board of directors for the GEPB has control over the utility, per state law, not the council.
Armstrong said that if a consultant comes in, though, and says it will provide a game plan, a business plan, etc. for the utility and tell it what it can do legally and what is best for the utility and the residents of Glasgow, “if they allow us to do that and then they come back and the board says, 'Oh, we don't want to do that,' then the city council, the mayor and the people of Glasgow can do something.”
Armstrong said he had already asked the chair to move forward with getting a consultant, but that wasn't done at the last meeting.
If the board is given solid advice from a consultant and takes it, “I don't think we'll have to do anything. I think it'll take its path and be right. If they say, 'No, we're not going to look at this because they haven't thought about this in the future,' then I think everybody can band together and we can see what we can do to remove the ones that didn't want to go along with the right way.”
Armstrong did also acknowledge the possibility that the consultant could say the GEPB is on the right path already.
He later said that if a board member just makes a bad decision, that's one thing, “but if somebody knows better and is still gonna run a route, that's different. That's malfeasance.”
State law lists the conditions under which board members can be removed before their terms expire; malfeasance is one of those.
“So I think that, if they'll go along and they will accept [having] a consultant to tell them what's best for the electric plant board and the city, I think then everybody can just sit back and wait and see what happens, and then once it's done, it'll be made public, and then if they go the way that they say is the best route for everybody involved, then we'll have to rely on that consultant as doing the right thing,” Armstrong said.
He said an independent consultant would pull all of its own data and not just rely on how its presented by the current leadership.
Armstrong had started off with a quick update about extra state funding the city is getting for street work, using the opportunity to explain why city officials aren't the best ones to contact for some street issues.
“We can't fix a pothole. We can't fix a crack. We can't fix anything. The state – we just have to complain over and over and over until they come in and fix those sections,” the mayor said.
Portions of Ky. 90, U.S. 68-Ky. 80, Ky. 1297, Ky. 249, U.S. 31-E, Ky. 249, Ky. 63, Ky. 1307, Ky. 2207, Veterans Outer Loop, which has different numerical identifiers for its various segments, and the Louie B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway are all in the city limits and are state or federal highways, all of which are the responsibility of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
State roads are identifiable by signs that have the number inside a white circular shape that is within a black background. For federal highways, a shield shape is used instead of the circular shape.
A few other questions had to do with tree-trimming, dilapidated properties, downtown parking and other odds and ends.
“That's what this is for, to get your concerns and see what we can do legally to fix them,” the mayor said. “It's just like I said awhile ago; this quadrant would have concerns that wouldn't mean anything to the other part of town but it's very important to this part of town.”
The next “town hall” meeting is for Quadrant 2 and is scheduled Oct. 7. Quadrant 3 is set for Nov. 4 and Quadrant 4 is Dec. 2. All the rest are scheduled for 5:30 p.m., and all will be in Council Chambers in Glasgow City Hall.