With an unanimous vote, Radcliff City Council wiped away all its debt Tuesday night.
During its regular meeting, the council decided to pay off about $1.5 million in debt.
As discussed last week in council’s work session, the city would tap into its financial reserves to pay the remainder of five debt obligations totaling $1,538,323.74, that amounts to $693,694 annually returning to the operational budget.
The debt includes a $472,500 annual payment for the city’s fire station No. 1 on Wilson Road. The 20-year loan only has 1.2 years remaining and is the largest single payment each year for the city. The other four debt obligations – all of which have at least three years remaining – are for a Taser lease, body cam lease, a vehicle and infrastructure for the Gateway Crossing development.
Radcliff Mayor J.J. Duvall said the city has a little less than $4.4 million in reserve.
During the meeting Tuesday, Duvall compared the early debt payment to when the council voted to pay off the Challenger Learning Center building, now Boundary Oak Distillery, early. It was a move he initiated in his first stint as mayor.
“This is probably the first time ... that (the council) have voted to pay off ... all city debt,” he said. “It’s like owning your house and paying off your mortgage early. It’s a good accomplishment for this council.”
All members voted in favor. Councilman Kim Thompson was not present.
The vote freed up money to address salaries for the city’s law-enforcement officers. The salary schedule, on the agenda as an amendment to the city’s policy and procedures, was approved unanimously without discussion.
As discussed in the work session, Radcliff Police Chief Jeff Cross said the raises are necessary to address recruitment and retention in the department.
“It’s mostly salary,” he said in an interview following the work session. “You’re going to have some officers that feel they have a better fit somewhere else. ... There’s always going to be some you’ll never change no matter what the pay is because it’s just not where they want to be. But generally speaking, the officers that we’ve lost over the last several years have all gone to places that are paying a much higher pay than what we’re paying.
“It’s a competitive market for police nowadays,” Cross added. “There’s not as many people interested in this job as there used to be. Recruitment is tough and we see the need, if we’re going to be able to compete with these other places, we’re going to have to up our game, up our pay and try to improve.”
The raises are expected to cost the city about $200,000 per year, Duvall said last week.
The city has 30 of its 40 police positions filled, with two people identified to attend the Department of Criminal Justice Training Academy in July, Cross said. He hopes to fill at least three more positions to have the force at 35.
The amendment discussed at the work session raises a starting officer’s salary from $32,000 to $42,000, but includes raises for all officers, including the chief.
Council’s next work session is at 5 p.m. May 10 at city hall.
IN OTHER BUSINESS. The council conducted first reading to amend a flood damage prevention ordinance. The ordinance amends a free board requirement from FEMA by adding one foot of height about the base flood elevation in special flood hazard areas.
According to information shared by city planner Murray Wanner in a previous work session, the ordinance does not affect any properties in the city but if Radcliff did not enact the ordinance, the city’s flood rating could rise making flood insurance more expensive for residents.