Newport Mayor David Stewart presented City Attorney Steven G. Howard with a plaque honoring him for 15 years of service during Monday night’s regularly scheduled city council meeting. Howard announced earlier in the year that he would be retiring at the end of August. He began his service for the city in October 2002.
Howard told the council that serving as City Attorney has been one of his favorite jobs in the 40 years he’s practiced law. “It has been an honor to work with the department heads, our two chiefs we have with us tonight, Martin Steward, City Inspector Derrick Ratliffe. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I see bright things happening in Newport’s future.”
Deputy Prosecutor Rob Ratton is positioned to step into the role upon Howard’s retirement.
In other business:
The Council tabled several issues for further research or discussion including a request to vacate a public street. James McLarty, Attorney for Petitioners, presented a formal request, statute instructing the procedure and requirements for street closure and history of the street in question, which was never used, but a planned plot for development approximately 60 years ago.
The Council discussed a resolution on internet sales tax per request of the Municipal League. The resolution would support the government’s assessment and collection of sales tax from online sales. Howard explained that the increase of online sales has created interest by state and federal government to pursue a taxation process that would be equated to the local merchant procedure for taxing products.
Howard updated the Council on the status of Ritter Communications, who has requested a franchise in Newport. On behalf of the city, Howard has sent the local contact a list of requirements and information needed before any work can begin in the city. He advised he has not heard from him since the letter was mailed.
Mayor Stewart told the Council that the City has applied for a grant from the USDA to help pay for another police unit. He advised in the past the City has received the grant without any trouble, meets all of the criteria and follows-up, allowing them to purchase a fully loaded vehicle for almost half the cost. Chief Michael Scudder explained the department has to place a sticker on the vehicle stating it was purchased with the grant from the USDA and that they will come out and take a picture of the sticker and are satisfied that requirements are fulfilled.