The two hour meeting of the Eutaw City Council on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, focused primarily on the process for purchasing new police cars; the mandated closing of city water Well #2; and various bills presented to the council for payment, including cost of holding arrested persons in confinement.
Items added under Old Business were advertising for position of City Building Inspector and securing link phones for City Council Members.
Mayor Raymond Steele presented the council with a summary document indicating that he had negotiated an arrangement with the Rural Development of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to secure six new, fully equipped cars for the city police department. This purchase arrangement includes a USDA grant of $97,000 accompanied by a loan by the city of $79,369 at the rate of %4.625 for 20 years. The Mayor stated that the council had given prior approval for the purchase of the new police cars, however the council retorted that it had not approved the final negotiations of a loan.
Following the meeting, Mayor Steele provided a copy of the council minutes of June 22, 2010, which indicated that the council had approved “ A resolution to apply for a USDA loan in the amount of $79,369 and a grant in the amount of $97,000 to purchase six police cars.”
In further discussions, council persons Edwards and Liverman indicated that their understanding is that this was agreeing to the application to USDA. The details should have been brought before the council for final approval. “This is an entire year later, no one finances a police car for 20 years. We should be part of the discussion on whether we need to make a loan at this time or pay for the cars outright. We don’t even know what each car cost,” said Liverman.
Other council members commented in support of this position at the recent council meeting. Councilperson Edwards stated that she would not approve another loan at this time since the city has other current loans to deal with.
Although the council had strong opposition to entering into a loan for the police cars, they were in support of purchasing the needed vehicles with funds on hand. Mayor Steele responded, “The paperwork has been submitted to USDA for the grant and loan and I can’t change the paperwork.”
Liverman asked the Mayor the cost of each car. Mayor Steele did not provide that information.
Liverman asked if one of the cars was for the Mayor’s use. Mayor Steele replied he would have one of the new cars.
Council members asked why the Mayor needed a new car when he was using the city’s truck.
Mayor Steele was also questioned on his entitlement to the use of a city vehicle when the Mayor had, earlier in the meeting, raised a similar question regarding the council’s request for link (cell) phones. In the discussion of the council’s request for the cost of having cell phones, Mayor Steele commented that in cities of comparable size, council members did not have link phones.
“The council is not entitled to link phones. No municipalities in the area have link phones,” Steele said. Although in previous meetings the council had requested information on cost of securing 5 phones, Mayor Steele stated he had not looked into the matter.
Grady Parsons of Southwest Water Company, a professional service contracted by the city since 2004, presented a proposal in the amount of $14,050 to close Well #2. Parsons explained that Well #2 is currently out of service, holds brackish, salty water, and could not be placed back in service without enacting a special treatment system.
According to Parsons, Well #5 was brought on line in 2008 and, thus, eliminated the need for Well #2. He explained that Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) is aware of the circumstances of both wells and requires that the closing of Well #2 is conducted through appropriate procedures.
“Well #2 is located in limited space and needs to be dismantled properly and stored,” said Parsons. Parson stated that ADEM would allow 90 days to complete the project. When the council asked Parson to request an extension of 90 additional days from ADEM, Parsons refused. “I am not going to ask ADEM for more time because I know they will say no, “ he said.
In a correspondence to Mayor Steele dated June 8, 2011, Parson’s Southwest Water Company presented a detailed listing of the task associated with dismantling the well and the $14,050 cost of the project.
Councilperson Hattie Edwards inquired of the Mayor if other bids for the project had been solicited since this work is under professional services. He responded that he had not sought additional bids. Edwards, along with other council members expressed that the projected cost stated by Parsons was excessive for the project. The council directed the Mayor to seek other bids for the project.
The council expressed strong concerns of continuing the contract with Waste Management regarding garbage collection in the city. Councilperson Ralph Liverman stated that Waste Management should not expect the its contract with the city will be automatically renewed. Following more discussion, the council voted unanimously to have the city send out request for proposals for city garbage collection including residential and commercial sites.
In examining the bills for payment, the council members raised questions regarding the cost of holding arrested persons in jail. Councilperson suggested that instead of holding persons in jail for 2 or 3 days, perhaps their punishment could be in area of public service, such as clean up or cutting grass. The Mayor explained that this was in the prerogative of the judge. Edwards asked that this idea be brought to the attention of the judge.
Attorney Mike Smith explained, “When someone is arrested they are jailed until they can make bail. This is the pre-trial basis and this is where the cost comes in.” Smith agreed to talk to the judge about pre-trail detainees.
Councilperson Powell requested that the mayor re-advertise for a city building inspector. “The council agreed to re-advertise for that position since no one has been hired,” said Powell. The Mayor responded, “ I have already advertised and didn’t get any qualified applicants, so I don’t see a need to advertise again. I may do so at a later time. The council has no authority over this position” Liverman took exception stating that it is the council that authorizes this position.
In other business:
- Council voted unanimously that all requests for permits must come before the council.
- Approved a resolution to apply for CDBG Competitive Funds through ADECA for water improvements, total cost of $400,000, with grant request of $350,000 and Eutaw committing $50,000 match.
- Failed to commit to participate in sales tax holiday scheduled for August 5-7, 2011.
Weather for Eutaw, Ala. Thursday Friday SaturdayPartly Cloudy91/66Clear79/55Clear81/61
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