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HUNTINGTON — Members of Huntington City Council unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement Monday night that will see the city of Huntington loan about $1.8 million to the Huntington Municipal Development Authority for a hillside slip repair at Kinetic Park, which is already under construction.

Meanwhile, council members approved a separate ordinance removing a residency requirement for HMDA’s 15-member board, citing difficulty finding qualified candidates to serve on it.

All revenue generated from the tax increment financing (TIF) district surrounding Kinetic Park will go toward repaying the city within four years, said Cathy Burns, HMDA executive director. Slippage to the west slope of Kinetic Park has been a problem for many years, stemming from insufficient natural spring drainage as Kinetic Park was developed in the early 2000s, Burns said.

To tackle the problem, HMDA hired an engineering firm to plan erosion and sediment control and the installation of stormwater lines and drains. HMDA then hired K&N Contracting, of Elkview, West Virginia, to complete the work for $2.5 million. HMDA agreed to pay for the project from revenue generated as incremental increases in personal and real property taxes within the district, known as TIF No. 2.

Burns said during an HMDA meeting in November that she originally intended to get a bank loan to finance the project and repay it with the TIF No. 2 account. However, after researching the district’s founding language, she discovered it was established as a pay-as-needed account with no financing obligations permitted.

About $617,000 was paid from the account to begin the project, meaning about $1.8 million is needed to finish it. The proposed intergovernmental agreement will allow the city to advance $1.8 million to HMDA, which will repay the city as TIF revenue comes in monthly. The account generates about $500,000 a year, so Burns expects it to be repaid within four years.

Council members also unanimously approved a separate ordinance striking residency rules for members of the HMDA Board. According to the city’s charter, HMDA’s board shall consist of the mayor, one City Council representative, three business representatives, three industry representatives, three labor representatives and four economic development representatives. All members “shall be citizens and bona fide residents of the city.”

Burns said striking the residency line from the code is in line with a 2012 voter referendum that ended residency requirements for city employees.

One member recommended for HMDA’s labor representation has a Huntington address, but lives outside city limits, she said.

Also during Monday night’s meeting, council members approved a $138,870 contract with F&L Electronics, of Huntington, to furnish portable radios for each member of the Huntington Fire Department.

Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader said the department’s current radios are about 15 years old and cannot be repaired or replaced once they break down.

“This will actually be the first time in history that we will be issuing a radio to each person on the Huntington Fire Department, that will not only increase the safety on large-scale events, but it will also increase the accountability for each firefighter,” she said.

The equipment will be paid from the fire department’s capitol outlay account.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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