Photo by Mark Metzger
Photo by Mark Metzger

The troubled Economy Inn on Bardstown Road passed its follow-up inspection by the city health department today with a score of 100, meaning its owners will be allowed to keep their operating permit.

“We are heartened and buoyed by the inspection and feel that these high marks are well deserved,” said the motel’s manager Avis Zoma, in a statement released by their public relations firm. “We have always strived to run a good quality motel and will continue to do so moving forward. Ownership is committed to an ongoing program of improvements and also, as always, being good neighbors. We are excited about the future.”

Following the recommendations of a state hearing officer, Metro Public Health and Wellness chose not to revoke the operating permit of the Economy Inn last month — following repeated failed inspections documenting safety hazards and insects — instead giving it 10 days to pass a follow-up inspection.

While the Economy Inn has failed every regular, unannounced inspection of random rooms by the health department over the last 11 years, each time they have passed multiple follow-up inspections of those same rooms and violations.

The city health department noted in a press release that the Economy Inn will indefinitely remain on a six-month, rather than twelve-month, inspection interval “due to its repeated history of failing regular inspections.” It also noted that any failures in these inspections would cause the department to seek revocation of their operating permit, instead of just suspension — as was the case twice this year.

While conducting the follow-up inspection, the department says its inspectors also investigated a recent complaint in a separate vacant room, finding broken tile and burn holes and stains on bedding, saying they will do a follow-up inspection of this room in 30 days.

Councilman Steve Magre, D-10, who has been a lead critic of the motel in his district since taking office this year, said in a statement that this score was a foregone conclusion due to state law that continues to hamstring local officials, saying reform is needed in Frankfort.

“Clearly, this Health Department has no intentions of ever revoking the Economy Inn’s license, and I mean ever,” said Magre. “It is obvious the state statutory process that health departments follow to assure healthy and safe motel rooms is flawed and needs the attention of the General Assembly… This effort will have to come from grassroots. Fed up people will have to make a call to Frankfort to let officials know it’s time to fix this problem.”

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Joe Sonka
Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]