ASHLAND, Ky. — Commissioner Marty Gute called it a “new day in the city” as the Ashland Board of City Commissioners held its first official meeting of 2017.
Gute and fellow incumbent Commissioner Amanda Clark were ceremoniously sworn into office Thursday along with newly elected Commissioners Marshall Steen and Matt Perkins, and Mayor Steve Gilmore.
Each pledged to honor the wishes of the electorate and work toward reversing the recent economic downturn that’s hampered some growth in the city and resulted in the departure of staple job providers. An emotional Gilmore stood before a brimming crowd in the commission chambers and delivered a lengthy speech on the commission’s goals, from providing more accountability in the city building to making Ashland a more “business-friendly” town.
Gute, now in his fifth term, said it’s “no coincidence” voters added two local business owners in Steen and Perkins to the commission. Steen said his “door is always open” and he’ll “always be available” for comment from the public during his term. Perkins, whose popularity soared in the community thanks largely to his frequent interactions with local residents through social media, said the commission will work to streamline communication and boost transparency.
Clark, now in her second term, said she’s excited to be part of a movement of local residents “who say Ashland is going to be better and be the best Ashland we can be.”
After delivering welcome remarks, the commission unanimously elected Perkins to serve as mayor pro-tem, a position traditionally awarded to the commissioner who receives the most votes in the general election. Perkins will act as mayor on meeting days when Gilmore is absent.
City manager search
A top priority of the new commission in its first year is to hire a long-term city manager after seven city manager transitions in the past 11 years. The city began advertising the position mostly in bordering states this week, and Interim City Manager Steve Corbitt said the city has received two applications, including one from an Ohioan applicant.
He said 19 other Kentucky cities currently have city manager vacancies, but he’s hopeful suitable candidates will submit applications to Ashland in the coming weeks. The commission, which is partnering with the Kentucky League of Cities in its search, hopes to select a new city manager by early March.
The commission approved a contract with Green Valley Landfill for the second year in a row for the removal and disposition of sludge from the City of Ashland wastewater treatment plant and water treatment plant for the engineering and utilities department. Corbitt said Green Valley’s bid was lower at $40 per ton, or about $180,000, than the other bidder, a Pike County-based landfill. He said the partnership will cost “an extra $60,000” compared to last year.
Big Run Landfill couldn’t bid on the contract based on its agreed order with the state environmental cabinet, the Boyd County Environmental Coalition and the Boyd County Fiscal Court. The order mandates the landfill can’t exceed its 2015 sludge intake volumes and must remain under a quantity sludge cap in each county.
Jerry Ross, general manager of Big Run Landfill, recently requested an amendment to the agreed order to eliminate county caps but remain under the total cap to compete with the likes of Green Valley.
The commission also agreed to pay Evergreen AES $99,000, which worked with the city to dredge the city’s water reservoir of sludge over a nine-day period in November.