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Murray City Council votes not to reduce number of members

 (From left) Murray Mayor Bob Rogers and council  members Warren Hopkins and Dan Miller.
Dustin Wilcox
(From left) Murray Mayor Bob Rogers and council members Warren Hopkins and Dan Miller.

The Murray city council voted eight to four against reducing the number of council members at its bimonthly meeting on Thursday.

Council member Dan Miller was the most vocal supporter of the ordinance to reduce the number of council members from 12 to 10, excluding the mayor. Miller said it would’ve made the council less unwieldy and resulted in more meaningful discussions.

“How many council members does it take to do the job that we do?” Miller said. “Every vote that we took for the last year has either been 12 to zero — and I think the park vote was 11 to one — so every vote has been unanimous. It didn’t matter if there were six of us, 10 of us or 12 of us. The result has been exactly the same.”

Miller pointed to the demographic makeup of the council as another reason it could do with fewer members. He said some of his peers might not vote to scale down the council out of “self-interest” but noted this isn’t necessarily negative.

“Half the council is retired school teachers. I’m not going to talk about birthdays, but I know for a fact there’s four or five of us over the age of 70,” Miller said. “So we’re not a diverse council. We’re a retired teachers’ association. We’re a senior citizen group. We’re an AARP.”

Opposing council members said downsizing would make the council less approachable to and representative of Murray residents.

“For the people in the community who say, ‘I don’t know half the people on here,’ they generally know somebody they can pick up the phone and call, or they see at Walmart,” said council member Linda Cherry. “Is it cumbersome? I don’t know. Do we all have our own skills and bring relationships to the table that can further the city in the right direction? Yes, in my opinion.”

Others, including council member Burton Young, addressed what Miller considered a lack of discussion by clarifying the council has typically come to a consensus by the time the council takes a vote.

“That’s why a lot of these votes are so lopsided,” Young said.

In other business, the council voted in favor of the following ordinances:

  • Allowing the police department to accept an $80,000 grant for 40 body cameras.
  • A second refinancing of the wellness center bond for Murray State University, first issued in 2012.

The next meeting will be held on Feb. 3, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. CST.

Dustin Wilcox is a television production student at Murray State University. He graduated from Hopkinsville High School in 2019.
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