The Anderson Dean Park Board discussed the 1993 ordinance between the City of Harrodsburg, the Mercer County Fiscal Court and the park at their Monday, May 10, board meeting.
“The original contract was equal matching funds from both the city and the county,” said Mike Steele, board chair. “The tourist commission has no contract with us and could legally stop paying at any time.”
Steele asked for a meeting of the organizations to meet as soon as possible.
“I know Art is struggling with his health but if we could get together soon to work this out I’d appreciate it,” said Steele.
Steele said he raised the budget request to the Harrodsburg Mercer County Tourist Commission from $91,200 which has been paid for the current fiscal year to $118,000 for the next fiscal year which starts July 1, 2021. Executive Director, Jeremy Turpin said he submitted a $45,000 request to the City of Harrodsburg specifically for the pool for the upcoming fiscal year.
“We have not received funds from the city for this fiscal year but tourism has been paying us monthly and the county always comes through,” said Steele.
“I think this contract predates the restaurant tax,” said Joni Horn, past president. “Support for the park originally came from the City’s general fund.”
Horn also said the city did provide a check in July of 2020 making it part of this fiscal year but it was an isolated instance.
The responsibility for funds was outlined in the summer of 1996 with a second ordinance, 1996-5. This ordinance was adopted by the City of Harrodsburg, the City of Burgin and the Mercer County Fiscal Court outlining the financial responsibility of each party.
In section two article C, “The necessary funds to administer this joint committee (perpetual endowment for the benefit of the maintenance, operation and upkeep of Anderson Dean Recreational Park) shall be shared by the Mercer County Fiscal Court contributing 52 percent, the city of Harrodsburg contributing 41 percent and the City of Burgin contributing seven percent.”
In the 2005 ordinance, 2005-4 a board was established and financial responsibility from Burgin was nullified.
In city ordinance 2007-9 in which the restaurant tax was established the allocations of funds, found in section 4 article A, the city was to use their half of the tourism tax to fund the park as well as other quality of life organizations which brought tourism to Harrodsburg.
According to City Clerk Shavonnah Huffman, the funds for Anderson Dean have been allocated from the tourism tax since July 17, 2008 the first fiscal year following the establishment of the tax.
“We have sent mowers and employees to help maintain the park for the last two seasons,” said Huffman.
Huffman said the city has always supported the park when their budget allows.
“The funds have been historically allocated from tourism as far back as 2008,” said Huffman. “For the 13 years I have worked here, the city has always done whatever they could to help the park.”
In June of 2020 the City of Harrodsburg was told the handling of the tourism funds had been illegal after a new ordinance was passed dictating the allocation of funds for the Harrodsburg Mercer County Tourist Commission. The 2020 ordinance asked the commission to pay the park $150,000.
Mike Inman and Norrie Clevenger Currens, the chairman and attorney for the Harrodsburg-Mercer County Tourist Commission attended the June 22, 2020 City of Harrodsburg meeting to object to the ordinance on legal grounds
While the city does have the legal authority to abolish the tourist commission, they do not have the legal authority to tell the tourist commission how to spend the tax revenue.
Currens cited an opinion issued by the Kentucky Attorney General’s office in 2012. She said the original 2007 ordinance is invalid but no one ever challenged it. She asked the city commission to create a new ordinance that is within state law. Currens said there is nothing wrong with the city and various stakeholders providing insight and information, but the tourist commission has the ultimate discretion to parcel out the money.
“It’s the tourist commission’s responsibility to spend that money,” Currens said.
Following the legal status review the city asked tourism to fund the park and they have done so throughout the pandemic.
Judge Executive Milward Dedman said he felt the city was responsible for some support in addition to the county and tourism and agreed a meeting was relevant.
In addition, Judge Dedman addressed the board regarding the new billboard on park property.
What is the plan with the very large billboard?” asked Dedman. “Is this something you plan on offering to others?”
Jeremy Turpin responded saying the size was a bit larger than he expected but wanted to expand advertising at the park.
“I do want advertisements throughout the park,” responded Turpin.”I have a letter I am going to send out to other businesses.”
“In the past advertisements have been limited to the fence,” said Horn.
“It really cheapens the look of the park,” said Steele.
“It really is a safety concern,” said Dedman. “The billboard’s location is the issue.”
“I agree, it is so large you want to turn and see what is on the other side,” said Horn. “With children running, it could be a real safety hazard.”
The board agreed to readdress the bill board’s locations at the meeting and asked Turpin to reach out to the advertiser for relocation. Turpin said he was paid $1,000 already for the advertisement and promised another $1,000 plus $2,000 yearly for the board.
“Just reach out and let him know the board needs it to be moved closer to a fence,” said Steele. “We could waive a fee or something to make it right.”
In other business:
• The pool is being cleaned still and Turpin hopes to fill it with water and call in professionals within the month.
• The concert scheduled for Friday, May 14 is canceled due to weather concerns.
•Daughters of the American Revolution will hold a picnic at the Hitachi Shelter with no fee on June 2.
The next meeting of the Anderson Dean Community Park Board is Monday, June 14, at noon.