The Murray City Council will soon consider a draft ordinance discouraging begging or panhandling in the city.
Mayor Jack Rose instructed city attorney Warren Hopkins at Thursday night’s meeting to draft the ordinance, after examples from the cities of Paducah, Hopkinsville and Bowling Green were presented to the council.
Paducah's ordinance reads, "No person shall go about from door to door of private homes or commercial and business establishments, or place himself in or upon any public way or public place, to beg or receive alms for himself." Bowling Green's ordinance reads, simply, "It shall be unlawful for any person to beg or solicit aid in the City."
Rose said he and council members have received many complaints about panhandling. He said the city is becoming a “haven” for begging without an ordinance in place.
“Folks in this community are very helpful," Rose said. "We have all kinds of food pantries and we have a soup kitchen. People here will help you, but I think that most folks would prefer not to have people panhandling.”
Though the council seemed to support the prospect of an anti-begging ordinance, councilman Greg Taylor said he wouldn’t support jail time or heavy fines as punishment for offenders.
Rose indicated it would be at least a month before the council would consider the issue further.
Meanwhile, councilman Dan Miller announced the city is halfway to a $60,000 fundraising goal toward a new downtown "renaissance park", as part of its efforts to revitalize the area after last year’s building collapse and fire on the court square.
The park will be located at 5th and Poplar at the site of the old Murray Municipal Utilities building. Rose said with additional funding in place, the park could be open by year’s end and a part of the city’s Christmas celebration.
“It’d give some nice green space downtown," Rose said. "It’d be very attractive, I think, and maybe will enhance some discussion about other things developing down there.”
One of the needs identified in the city’s long-range planning was more green space downtown. The city is currently asking for six $5,000 gifts from individuals or businesses to complete funding. Those donors will be recognized in a plaque at the park site.
In other business:
- Murray Alcohol Beverage Control administrator Kendra Clere reported that the city netted nearly $273,000 in tax revenue between April 1 and June 30. That was a $22,000 increase over the same quarter last year. There were 30 DUIs in that timeframe, down from 43 in 2014.
- New director of public works Tom Kutcher was introduced to the council. He most recently worked for Cincinnati's metropolitan sewer district.
- Retiring transfer station employee Jimmy Thompson was recognized for 27 years of service.
- Rose informed the council that 19 people applied for the vacant director of finance position. That application period is now closed.