November 5, 2013 9:44:33 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
The Columbus Fire Department adopted the name Columbus Fire and Rescue when it changed its mission statement and badge seven years ago, but the change was never made official.
That will likely change tonight as the Columbus City Council has that among several items on a thick agenda to consider during its 5 p.m. meeting at the Columbus Municipal Complex.
Fire chief Kenneth Moore said official adoption of the name is needed as the department will be evaluated by an accreditation team next month.
"We're getting to the point now for accreditation purposes where we're having to show our legal authority," Moore said. "We're using the name that hasn't been officially adopted with the mayor and city council. We're having to show documentation all the way back to the city charter when the department was first officially formed. The strategic plan and standards of cover have been adopted by the mayor and city council. That's all part of the process of where we started to where we are today to where we want to go in the future."
Councilmen will also consider extending its deadline for Lawrence Transit System to begin operating bus routes in the city. Columbus Mayor Robert Smith received a letter from the Indiana-based company Oct. 31 stating it could have buses running within 30 days of his approval. Smith said he would pass the request on to the council. Dorothy Dowdell, who has been coordinating the start-up process for the not-for-profit company, said that same day grant funding would be available and the company would apply for funding and have the city sign off on the application by next month, with word on whether money is awarded to the service to come in March. In the meantime, the service would run off revenues from its Indiana operation, Dowdell said.
LTS' legal advisor and operations officer Mike Hardy also issued Smith a letter Oct. 24 stating the city needed to cooperate for the services to be "successful for the grants."
"Grants are scored on a point system and without the city's involvement we would virtually have no chance of getting any grants, making the bus venture short-lived, which would make it not worth starting up at all," the letter states. "Therefore, if we make application now we can get things going. We need your help with this. We are so close to making the buses a reality to everyone, and look forward to a long lasting business relationship in your city."
Dowdell said she found out "at the last minute" that the decision would be headed to the council and was not allowed a chance to get on the citizens' input agenda.
The council will also hold a public hearing for two tax-increment-financing agreements -- one $1.25 million issue and another $3.845 issue -- for retail developments. The first request would involve the city pledging 65 percent of ad valorem and sales tax revenue from a new 50,000-square-foot site to replace the old University Mall on Wilkins-Wise Road to go toward infrastructure improvements to support the new facility. County supervisors pledged 100 percent of ad valorem revenues to come from that property with 65 percent to service debt Monday after a public hearing. Financial consultant Sue Fairbank of law firm Baker Donelson said one of the outlets would be a Dick's Sporting Goods and a large-scale arts and crafts retailer is also slated to occupy the new facility.
The second TIF request involves the Moore's Creek Crossing redevelopment project, which involves the construction of three hotels near the 18th Avenue exit on U.S. Highway 82. One of the hotels is complete, with two others set to open in 2014.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.