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Changes in the city’s nepotism ordinance brought up several questions during January’s regular meeting and was the topic of more discussion during a special-called meeting on Friday.

The city’s nepotism ordinance was changed due to its restrictions on hiring family members. This was primarily changed to affect the city fire and police staff. The new ordinance prohibits city employees from hiring a spouse or anyone living within their household that can be claimed as a dependent for tax purposes. The ordinance, however, continues to state:

“Except for the limitations of the preceding statement, nothing contained in this ordinance shall prevent or prohibit other family members of a city officer or employee from holding a position of employment or a non-elected city office or prevent the promotion or transfer of a city employee to a position of employment or to a non-elected city office.”

The reasoning for the change is that many children or family members want to serve as fire or police officers. Under the previous ordinance, they were prohibited from doing so.

London Police Chief Chuck Johnson said the situation of the Medlock family was prime example of how the strict nepotism ordinance created problems.

“We were getting ready to lose Logan (Medlock) to the state police because his father was a lieutenant and Logan could never be promoted because of the nepotism ordinance,” he said.

Johnson added the the younger Medlock was a fine officer who would have been an outstanding leader but was unable to do so in the city police department. Unfortunately, Logan Medlock was killed by an intoxicated driver on Oct. 30 while still an officer with the city police.

The ordinance does require that any family member applying for employment by the city must notify the Mayor and that the Mayor must approve all “employment, advancements, promotions or transfers in the city.” It also requires the prospective employee must inform the Mayor of any family member employed by the City.

That same ordinance also addressed the City’s Ethics Board. There was some concern that the ordinance encompassed both areas of city government, with councilman Justin Young suggesting tabling the issue and separating the two sections into individual ordinances. However, city attorney Larry Bryson said state leaders wanted the issue combined into one ordinance.

After a split vote, the ordinance reading was continued. Changes to the ethics board section prohibits any city officer, employee or city board or commission member to serve on the Ethics Board.

The Ethics Board section also states ethics board members will not receive pay but they may be provided legal counsel with the City picking up the cost for that. Ethics Board members will also be provided liability insurance for protection against claims against members in their duties on the board. Additionally, it provides that the Chair of the Ethics Board will oversee the meetings, request police presence at meetings if deemed necessary and restricts any board member except the chair to “have any authority to act on behalf of the board unless authorized by the board.”

The ordinance further states the powers and duties of the Ethics Board, filings and investigations of complaints and allows for “assistance of law enforcement for the timely delivery of all documents under the terms of this Ordinance.” (A full copy of the ethics ordinance can be found on the City of London’s website.)

This was the first reading of the nepotism/ethics ordinance. It will require another reading before the council and publication in local newspaper, making it effective on the publication date.

Councilman Young was the sole vote against the second reading of Ordinance 2023-04, which addresses truck traffic in downtown London. Weddle explained the process was required by the state transportation cabinet to install signs on KY 192 and Hal Rogers Parkway to deter semi-trucks from using Main Street as a route. The fines listed in the ordinance cannot be enforced, however, but the signs cannot be installed to designate the two roadways as a truck route without the ordinance. This was the second reading of that ordinance, making it now part of the city’s policy.

Another ordinance to establish the London Development Board also passed during the 3-hour meeting on Friday. That ordinance will provide a grant writing position in the city government. However, Weddle said the county was splitting the cost of that position which will offer a salary ranging from $60,000 to $150,000, depending on the experience of the person hired. That Ordinance 2023-05 will be effective upon publication as this was the second reading of that ordinance.

The developers of the Laurel Breeze RV Park gave a brief presentation regarding the development of the park slated for the former Dairy Dart/stockyards property on South Main Street. After some discussion, council members voted to table the item once again, but with the promise of a more detailed plan of the RV park to be presented at a future meeting of the city council.

The retainer fee for the City Attorney was one item removed in a new ordinance, with billing for hourly services being done at a rate approved by the Mayor. The revision to that ordinance has not been addressed since 1990. City Attorney Larry Bryson said the elimination of a retainer fee would “save the city money.” The rate of the City Attorney’s pay was not however listed in the ordinance but requires the City Attorney to submit a budget to the Mayor for approval. Friday’s reading was the second addressing the issue, and is now in effect.

Ordinance 2023-03 establishes new guidelines for the London Utility Commission, which under Kentucky law, is now a SPGE (Special Purpose Government Entity) that functions separately from the city government. Weddle stated that previously a council member served on the utility commission board but state law now prohibits that. The ordinance outlines the policies and procedures of the utility commission and its duties and responsibilities. That full ordinance can also be seen on the City of London webpage. Council members will hear a second reading at the next council meeting, which will make the ordinance effective.

An ordinance proposing making East 5th Street a one-way street was tabled for a future meeting. While council members agreed that the street should become a one-way street, the extent of that came under concern. It was previously stated that the street would be one-way from the traffic light on Main Street to Willow Street but council members felt the residents and city traffic would be better served by restricting the one-way from Hill Street.

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