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Council backs decision to slash Main Street funding

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President of association brings issue to Hodgenville meeting

By Linda Ireland

Several Main Street members attended Monday night’s Hodgenville City Council meeting to show their support for the downtown improvement organization.

The city’s contribution to Main Street was slashed by $500 per month – and the group hoped to convince the council to overturn or modify Mayor Terry Cruse’s decision.

They were unsuccessful.

Larry Davis, president of Main Street, reminded council members of about $140,000 worth of improvements in the downtown area made possible through the Main Street program.

“Main Street helped procure a lot of money for what we see out here … on our city square. It’s beautiful,” he said.

Davis then challenged the council, two of whom are Main Street members, to continue to invest in the city’s future.

“Are we going to be satisfied? Are we through? Do we have a vision for the future? … My hope is that city council will consider the return on the investment that you have … and help us stay in business,” he said.

Davis went on to say he believed Main Street “could survive” the 25 percent cut if they “tighten their belts.” However, the group relies on income from a rental property and if they were to lose that money, they would be “in a world of hurt.”

Cruse agreed Main Street has contributed a lot to the community. He said he would like to see the program continued; he noted the city gave the group $25,000 last year and an additional $12,496 through a memorial bench program.

Also, the 25 percent monthly cut averages out to only a 12.5 percent cut for the year because it does not affect the entire fiscal year, he said. He does not anticipate any more cuts to the program.

He has offered Main Street office space in the city’s educational building to save on rent as well, he said.

Former mayor Roger Truitt then spoke on behalf of Main Street, reminding the council it would be difficult for the city to obtain grants from the state without the program.

He felt the city’s cut was “drastic” and feared the effect it would have on Main Street volunteers.

The group might see “there’s no money to do anything with and we might as well just close the shop up and go back home. And we don’t want that to happen because there’s a lot of good people doing a lot of good work in Main Street,” Truitt said.

He suggested there were “other places to look” before slashing Main Street’s contribution, such as selling one of the city’s extra police cars.

Cruse said he had considered selling one of the cars, but decided it would be better to keep a spare in case a vehicle breaks down.

Cruse said he believed interest in Main Street has declined as last year, there were 17 or 18 people attending the meetings; now only eight or nine attend.

“I don’t know why people come and go,” he said.

Cruse said he felt he was being fair to the group as he had already made several other cuts to the city’s budget including eliminating jobs. The cutbacks are necessary, he said, as he doesn’t want to be caught in a financial crunch at the end of the fiscal year.

“I made the cut. I’m sticking with it on my part,” he said. “I hope Main Street does well and I’m going to do what I can to help it. But that’s just where we need to go.”

None of the council members made a motion to vote on the Main Street contribution.