The Murray City Council Finance/Personnel Committee met Feb. 23 and tabled a newly drafted city sticker ordinance. The members met to debate the issue of the wording on the drafted ordinance.
Jay Morgan, associate provost who serves on the committee, said after the meeting and after discussing the issue with other members, he thinks they have debated the ordinance enough and it should be dropped.
“The committee knows how I feel and I have pointed out several discrepancies in the ordinance,” Morgan said.
The newly drafted city sticker ordinance would require all Murray State students to purchase a $50 sticker annually.
Morgan said he is in support of a revision that exempts Murray State students. The problem with the ordinance council members are debating, he said, is one of enforcement.
“There are too many variables when it comes to students,” he said. “Particularly when it comes to transient students living on University property.”
Attending the committee meeting to put pressure on the council against the ordinance, were Josh Jacobs, chief of staff, Mark Welch, director of community relations and public information, Jeremiah Johnson, Student Government Association president and several members of SGA and the Residential College Association.
Alan Lanier, director of finance for the city, said in reviewing the old ordinance the committee has come to the crux of the situation surrounding the ordinance.
He said the problem is the residency exemptions given to Murray State students are unlawful. It is prohibited for there to be such an exemption according to interpretations of state statutes and current interpretations by the office of the Attorney General.
“The meat of the argument is that the city sticker is a license to operate a vehicle on the streets of Murray,” Lanier said. “As such, there can be no separate class of individuals. We’re addressing this as a true licensing of a vehicle.”
The revised ordinance discussed by the committee will have a 30-day provision written into the final draft, stating anyone moving into the city of Murray will have to buy the city sticker regardless of any class they may be associated with.
The committee was advocating a pro-rated account for students, the cost of which would be $36.35 starting in August and applying until the end of the term in May.
Jason Pittman, committee member, said the original consensus was for a pro-rated amount. The pro-rated cost is listed in the current draft of the new ordinance.
Chair Danny Hudspeth said exemptions are no longer on the table.
“We are trying to make the city sticker universal without exemptions to anyone, including Murray State students,” he said.
Some students are citing cost as their main problem with city stickers.
There is a steep penalty if the sticker is not purchased within 30 days of residency. The penalty, a citation left uncontested, would cost $100. The fine, plus the original cost of the sticker, $50, would be required.
Pete Lancaster, a committee member, said the intent is not to fine students $100. The intent is to abide the law. He said if students buy the sticker when they become a resident there would be no problem.
“I would hope the quality of our student body is not sitting out there trying their damnedest to get out of a $35 fee,” Lancaster said. “My hopes are that if we promote this properly and explain this properly that students would come forward and just let us know these things.”
Johnson said from what he gathers, students across the campus either feel very passionately about the issue of city stickers or don’t care at all.
“A lot of students believe if they are forced to pay for the city sticker they will automatically get to vote,” Johnson said.
He said this, of course, is not true. Students still have to register to vote, which they can do already.
“I hope the issue is just dropped,” Johnson said. “Why change something that has worked for so many years.”
Morgan told Johnson after the committee meeting, the council fears retaliation from the students if the ordinance revision isn’t dropped.
President Randy Dunn said he understands the need the city has for revenue, just as the University does, but he doesn’t see the city sticker ordinance moving forward soon.
“It appears, as I look at it from some distance, there are issues with the ordinance itself,” he said. “I think it was wise ultimately for the city’s finance committee to continue to table that proposal.”
Student Elizabeth Carman, freshman from Hardinsburg, Ky., said not only is parking limited but also now they want to make students pay an additional parking fee.
“They should find a different way to ticket instead of just fining us to drive,” she said.
Aaron Allen, junior from Benton, Ky., said it is an extra expense and a hassle for students.
The committee will revisit the issue at a special meeting called for Monday.