PRINCETON — There was no public comment regarding the City of Princeton’s proposed ordinance to change zoning codes allowing clubs, pubs, craft breweries and other establishments to sell beer, wine or other alcoholic beverages with meals, but the ordinance did not pass Princeton City Council unopposed in July.
The ordinance was up for second reading and public hearing before Council after passing first reading by a 5-1 vote in June. The hearing was closed in the wake of no public comment, prompting Councilman Tim Ealy to move to pass the ordinance, with a second by Councilman James Hill. Councilman Marshall Lytton and Councilman James Harvey voted against the ordinance. Lytton also voted against it on first reading.
The city also closed its FY 2017 budget with a final report by Finance Director Brian Blankenship. He reported that, after adjustment for receivables, Princeton’s revenue for FY 2017 stood at $6,171,571 or .41 percent over budget and expenses, after adjustments for payables were $6,335,764, or 3 percent over budget. Total funds for city operations stood at $2,634,712. The city only had to adjust $34,266 from estimates. The total unassigned fund balance for FY 2018 is $1,005,734. Lytton moved to accept the final budget with a second from Vice Mayor David Graham.
Blankenship also reported that the final FY 2017 Coal Severance Fund budget was $255,627.01. Lytton moved and Ealy seconded the acceptance of the final budget.
On motion of Lytton with a second by Councilwoman Jacqueline Rucker, the first adjustment of the FY 2018 budget passed, bringing it to $7,079,184.
On motion of Lytton with a second by Hill, funding from the Coal Severance Fund was allocated to the Railroad Museum’s HVAC system.
On motion of Lytton with a second by Rucker, Coal Severance Budget funding was allocated toward obtaining new Christmas decorations for the city. Harvey voted against the action, because he said the funding had not been allocated in the city budget.
In the absence of Library Director Brittany Rothausen, Lytton reported that the Hunnicutt Foundation had awarded the Princeton Public Library $25,000 for maintenance and that the Mercer County Commission had pledged continual financial support for both county libraries.
On motion of Lytton and second by Rucker, a B&O tax incentive was awarded to Royal Fades Barber Shop’s, Travis Francisco and Rodney Cox.
On motion of Lytton and second by Graham, a B&O tax incentive was awarded to Survival Supply, LLC.
Joanna Fredeking was reappointed to the PPL Board of Directors on motion of Lytton and second by Rucker.
Warren Jeff Gilley was reappointed to the Planning Commission on motion of Lytton and second by Hill.
On motion of Lytton and second by Ealy, Vic Allen was reappointed to the Planning Commission.
On motion of Harvey and second by Ealy, Lytton and Graham were appointed to the Planning Commission. Lytton and Graham abstained from the vote.
On first reading, Ealy moved and Graham seconded to accept an ordinance regarding special collection services fees for the Public Works Department.
On first reading, Hill moved and Rucker seconded to accept an ordinance regulating problem cats in the city.
On second reading and public hearing, Ealy moved and Graham seconded an ordinance amending the City Charter to increase the pay of the City Council members and mayor, effective July 1, 2020. City Attorney Paul Cassell explained that all the Council members had to go through an election (at-large members Hill, Graham and Mayor Dewey Russell will face re-election in 2019) before they may accept the increased pay.
Rucker reported that the disc golf course in the City Park opened on July 1. She added that Parks & Recreation Department had applied to the Community Foundation of the Virginias for $1,063 in grant funding to build a kiosk at the beginning of the course.
The City Pool’s “Back-to-School” Bash will be held July 29, 12-6 p.m., offering Open Swim, food, drinks, a D.J., games and prizes.
On motion of Hill with a second by Graham, Rucker was reappointed to the Parks & Recreation Board.
On motion of Ealy with a second by Lytton, Harvey was reappointed to Parks & Recreation Board.
Princeton Railroad Museum Director Patricia Smith reported that 702 people attended West Virginia Day activities at the museum and, as of June 30, in excess of 2,000 people had visited the museum in 2017. She also said plans were in the works for a “Princetonoply” game with local merchants paying to have their business names included on the board as a museum fundraiser.
Code Enforcement Officer Bill Buzzo reported his department in June handled 136 initial complaints, closed 128 and had 86 active cases; had 34 condemnations in process, with 16 renovations and 18 demolitions; had three demolitions completed; responded to 53 animal complaints, with 15 impoundments, coordinated seven adoptions and one euthanization; issued 29 building permits (19 commercial 10 residential); conducted 24 inspections; oversaw total project costs worth $3,061,100.71 and total permit fees of $2,303.50; issued three certificates of occupancy and had two Zoning Board applications.
Fire Chief Chad Bailey reported that his department’s annual boot drive in partnership with WNVS-TV raised more than $9,000 for local food banks. He added that Aaron Beeman and Cory Vest had be hired to fill PFD vacancies. The PFD responded to 93 EMS and 45 fire calls, had conducted 24 inspections, issued four certificates of occupancy and issued 30 citations during the month of June.
Police Chief J.W. Howell Jr. reported that the PPD had responded to 657 calls, with 53 arrests and 180 citations issued. He added that, thanks to quick and cooperative action by the PPD, Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and West Virginia State Police, a robbery suspect who had robbed H&S Sporting Goods at gunpoint Monday morning had been arrested in the High Street area that afternoon.
The two new PPD officers, he added, were already certified and ready to serve.
Jeff Harvey at