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Campbellsville might soon join larger cities like Louisville and Lexington by passing an ordinance against public panhandling.
City Council had the first reading of a proposed ordinance at its regular meeting on Monday.
Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young said people are often seen holding signs requesting money or food in highly trafficked areas in the community. He said Campbellsville Police Chief Tim Hazlette has suggested a ban on panhandling because of concerns for public safety.
"Police officers have become relatively acquainted with these people, and what we've learned is that none of these people are from Campbellsville or Taylor County," Young said. "They're from surrounding counties, coming here, and most of the people are on some type of assistance."
According to Young, panhandlers receive a lot of money from people in the community and some make even more than he does as mayor. Councilman Dave Nunery said the problem with panhandling is the public has no way of knowing if the individuals are legitimately needy.
Several other Council members said they support an ordinance but have concerns about it effecting church groups and other legitimate organizations from raising money for charity. They said as it is presently written, the ordinance is vague and could be misinterpreted.
Young said a lengthier ordinance was drafted but City Attorney John Miller reviewed it and made a shorter version. Miller did not attend the meeting. However, Young said Council members are free to add to the ordinance at their next meeting if they like.
"I'm all in favor of the concept, I just think we need to work a little bit on language," Nunery said.
Hazlette did not attend Monday's meeting.
"The problem with panhandling is it has the potential to create a circumstance that goodwill citizens may become victims," Hazlette said Wednesday morning.
Hazlette said a person risks getting their purse or wallet stolen while giving money to panhandling individuals.
"We believe a good number of these folks are scam artists," Hazlette said. "They're preying on people's emotions with the way that they develop their signage and terminology they use."
Hazlette his department has researched the individuals who panhandle in Campbellsville and some have criminal records.
"We've arrested some that have outstanding warrants against them," Hazlette said.
He urges the public, in the interest of their safety, to not give money or approach any individuals they see panhandling.
Young said he wants the ordinance approved in time for the holiday season, when the number of panhandlers tends to increase.
Ordinances must have two readings and be published in the News-Journal before the become law.
Also at the Meeting:
• Campbellsville Fire & Rescue engineers Steve Marrs, Tony Grider and Chris Taylor were promoted to captains in a pinning ceremony.
• Trick or treating hours for Halloween were approved for Thursday, Oct. 31, from 5 to 8 p.m. Downtown merchants will also pass out candy from 3 to 5 p.m.
• Councilman Mike Hall Jr. reported the committee in charge of drafting an ordinance to regulate yard sales has had some scheduling issues. He said the committee plans to make a recommendation at the November meeting.
• The Council had first reading of an ordinance to move its regular monthly meetings and special meetings to the new Campbellsville Civic Center, located on the corner of Broadway and South Columbia Ave, the former Taylor County Public Library.
Young said he plans for the first meeting at the new location to be the Dec. 2 regular City Council meeting. The civic center has more seating capacity and is more handicapped accessible than the current meeting room.
• A four-ton Asphalt Hotbox was declared surplus at the request of Campbellsville Water & Sewer Co. Young said the company is considering trading the equipment in exchange for equipment better suited to their needs.
• Ten-year-old Cee Cee Creech was recognized for her continued dedication to help communities in need. It started in 2011 with Elephants for Joplin, a project that sent knitted elephants to children affected by the tornado that ravaged the town of Joplin, Mo., as well as raise money for the American Red Cross. She went on to participate in relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy in 2012. This spring, Creech traveled to Atlanta to participate in a national knitting convention and helped distribute hundreds of hats and toys to cancer patients. Her current project is an anti-bullying campaign. In September, Creech was a recipient of the Dr. Jay C. Buckey Humanitarian Award, a national honor given to recognize a pioneering spirit that has improved society and inspired others. She is the first child to receive the award.
• Young read the financial report for August. With 17 percent of the fiscal year complete, general government has been spent at 28.2 percent. Young said this figure is higher than usual because of a $250,0000 Healing Place grant that must flow through the city's accounts. The city garage has used 31.2 percent of its budget, and Young said employees are working on charging the appropriate departments that use the garage to repair their vehicles. Young said this will help the city maintain better accounting records.
Police/communications has used 16 percent of its annual budget, Planning & Codes has used 14.9 percent, fire has used 14.2 percent, Fire & Rescue has used 12.6 percent and the street department has used 9.3 percent of its annual budget.
The sanitation department has used 14.6 percent, landfill has used 15.8 percent, park has used 12.5 percent, swimming pool has used 56 percent and EMS has used 14.9 percent of its budget.
As of August, the city's bank account balances totaled $1,245,950.34.
• Barry Blevins was re-appointed to serve another two-year term on the Campbellsville Planning & Zoning Board.