Travis and Hill

Code Enforcement Officer Marc Travis (left) and Burnside Police Chief Mike Hill discuss their recent efforts to shut down a local pet store and rescue animals believed to be mistreated at Monday's meeting of the Burnside City Council. 

The City of Burnside took a big first step on Monday toward further development of the community with the introduction of an ordinance creating the "Dream Big Burnside Authority."

Ordinance 2021-005 creates the organization, which "may promote economic development and tourism within its jurisdiction," according to the text of the article. 

The ordinance came after a private executive session, in which Burnside city officials met with SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler.

That took place at a special-called meeting of the Burnside City Council on Monday night. More details about the "Dream Big Burnside Authority" and its mission will likely be available following a second meeting held the following night. 

The authority will be made up of a nine citizen-member board. The mayor will appoint six of them, as well as a seventh from a slate of nominees provided by the mayor of the City of Somerset, and another from nominees provided by the Pulaski County Judge-Executive. The last member will be one provided by SPEDA, as appointed by the Burnside mayor.

The authority will be able to solicit contracts and lease agreements, apply for and administer grants, tax and other economic development incentives, receive and spend public funds, grants, awards and appropriations, borrow money and issue revenue bonds, impose and collect certain fees, and solicit, approve and execute public-private partnership agreements on the city's behalf. The authority cannot obligate the city's financial resources or levy taxes.

In other Burnside City Council business:

• Three other ordinances were given a second reading and passed by the council. That includes Ordinance no, 2021-003, which amends the ordinance establishing the city's Tourism Commission to say that the board will elect from its membership a chair, vice-chair and secretary/treasurer, and the term of office will be for one year with eligibility for re-election.

Another of those ordinances was no. 2021-004, rezoning property at 720 East Lakeshore Drive from R-1 to R-2, for the purpose of building a duplex at that location, and Ordinance no. 2021-002, which completes the annexation south on U.S. 27 in the Tateville area. The annexation would go about three miles past the Burnside border down to “just past” Keno Road. (More specific surveying coordinates are detailed in the ordinance.) The idea is to allow more room for future growth for the “only town on Lake Cumberland.” Any properties annexed in would do so voluntarily, by the property owner’s request.

• Burnside Police Chief Mike Hill and Code Enforcement Officer Marc Travis were recognized for their work in shutting down a local business whose owner has been charged with animal cruelty.

Animals were evacuated from Tim's Reptiles and Exotics with assistance from the Humane Society of the United States. During the September 1 execution of the search and seizure warrant, Burnside Police led the investigation assisted by Pulaski County Animal Control, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Special Investigation Unit, the Pulaski County Attorney's Office and the Somerset-Pulaski County Humane Society.

A video of the rescue effort was shown at the meeting Monday, displaying the poor conditions in which the animals within the store were living. 

Hill said that law enforcement had received complaints about the store, while Travis had looked into code violations at the location, and the two combined their efforts on the case.

"We got together with (Burnside Mayor Robert Lawson and City Attorney Molly) Hardy, and we put all of our heads together and spoke with the county attorney and he was willing to prosecute and jump on board," said Hill. "... I guess we had 40 volunteers from all over the country that day flew in (to help rescue the animals)."

Travis called it a "little shop of horrors," and said that it's especially difficult to shut down a business in animal abuse cases given that Kentucky is "one of the bottom-two states for animal rights." He said they had gone as far as possible from the code enforcement angle — "There was so much more there (that was) problematic; it was beyond simple code enforcement violations" — and took the steps necessary to save the animals inside.

He added that based on conversations with national Humane Society officials, the Burnside situation is a "big deal" that could end up influencing future case law, which is "how things change," he noted.

• Hill also spoke about his police department's audit through the Kentucky League of Cities for liability insurance. They base the cost of the department's insurance on their score; in the last three years, the department's score has gone up 30 points, from a score of 61 in 2018 when Hill was acting chief to a new score of 90.9. Anything from 60 to 79 is a "good account," said Hill, so the score of over 90 is "excellent," putting them in rare company throughout the state of Kentucky (only 12 percent of departments meet this mark), and the higher score will help lower insurance premiums.

"It gives the department the necessary policies and procedures that we need to operate by to avoid civil litigations," said Hill. "... If you've got things in order, it makes it easier from the top to the bottom operating. You've got policies to follow, follow this and you're good every time."

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