By Mike Steely

Should the city borrow $17.5 million through bonds or pay for the city’s ownership and conversion of street lights to LED bulbs? That was a question raised Tuesday evening by Councilman George Wallace regarding two items on the agenda: one to authorize $10M for the restoration of the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum and the other $17.5M to issue bonds basically to cover the purchase and retrofitting of the current KUB owned street lights.

Wallace said the city has “a healthy fund balance” and asked Finance Director Jim York why borrow when the city can just pay for it.


York answered that the $10 million isn’t part of the bond issue. He said paying for the street light project would mean the city would need to find the same amount of money in ten years. He said the $10M for the coliseum restoration is already in the budget but currently there are no plans as to where the money will come from.

Mayor Madeline Rogero agreed with York and said she would address where the money will come from when she presents her “State of the City” budget proposal on April 27.

“This is part of that plan,” she said.

York said that the city may not need to issue the bonds until June.

Both measures passed the council with a unanimous vote.

Last year when the council approved a beer license for the Pour Taproom at 207 West Jackson Avenue, heavier regulations were placed on that business than your normal pub. Among those regulations was the prohibition of minors in the facility.

Tuesday evening the new council overturned that piece of the regulations there. Council Attorney Rob Frost said he has talked with Pour Taproom and a way to allow children with their parents there has been worked out. Underage children will get a paper wristband.

Frost said the self-serve taproom has been doing well since it opened and is a “model business to work with.”

The council voted to permit children into the business when accompanied by a guardian adult.

A zoning change from SC-1 (Shopping Center) to C-4 (Commercial) was approved in a request from the planning commission. The largely vacant lot, on Kermit Drive just off Clinton Highway, is apparently going to become a hotel site. MPC staffer Dan Kelly said that the lot was approved for a C-3 change by the planners but the council opted for the C-4 change.

Several council members, including Lauren Rider, Andrew Roberto, Mark Campen and Gwen McKenzie, applauded the applicant, the Graham Corporation, for various improvements made in the past along Clinton Highway and Merchants Drive.

The council also approved the rezoning of a property on Hinton Avenue southwest of North Central Street. Johnny Lewis of EM Jellinek Center spoke to the council explaining that the center wants to add one house to its complex to house addicted adult men. The facility has 18 staff members and currently has a population of about 60 men with addiction problems.