MBA 2006 August

                                  COOPERTOWN BOARD OF MAYOR AND ALDERMEN

 

                                                                MEETING MINUTES

 

                                                                  AUGUST 22, 2006

 

 

I.          Pledge of Allegiance

 

II.          Edmund A. Niec, City Recorder, conducted a roll call.  The following members were present:

 

            Jack Long, Jr., Acting Mayor

            Donnie Gill, Alderman

            Peggy Ruth, Alderman

            Terry Scott, Alderman

 

III.         Bank Balances:   General Government:  $187,030

                                         State Street Aid:  $51,435

                                         Landfill Legal Fund:  $2,824.74

 

IV.        Acting Mayor Long reminded everyone that this was the Board Meeting of the Mayor and Aldermen.  There will be a public forum, but the meeting will not be conducted in a situation where hands go up with questions and outbursts.  He reminded Ms. Slawson that she is not to be around any members of the road crew.  The road crew has to be present at the meeting to give a statement regarding their previous activities for the previous month.  He stated that he has reminded her twice.  Ms. Slawson made an outburst, and Acting Mayor Long stated she was out of order.  He stated she was in violation. 

 

            Ms. Slawson asked if she could not participate in the forum and was told that was correct.  She was asked to step outside.  The conditions of her bond were read to the audience and Board, which included that she was not to go about all Coopertown department employees.  It was read and signed by Ms. Slawson.

 

            It was asked of Mr. Pugh if he had a statement from Ms. Slawson that he would like to read for her, and the answer was no.  There was discussion that she is allowed to speak, but not while the road crew is present in the meeting.  As soon as the road crew is done, she will be allowed to come back in. The road crew was there to report to the Board.  Acting Mayor Long stated that the city business had to be taken care of first.

 

            Ms. Slawson was the first member, but she was not present.

 

            The next person was Mr. Barrera.  He stated he left of his own accord.  He said he retired from Metro.  He stated he wasn't asked to leave Metro.  He stated he left on good standing and wasn't under no investigation.  He was marked as a re-hire for status with the Metro Police Department.  He has numerous citations.  He stated he was asked by Jack to come back on an interim basis to fix problems, and to take the department in the right direction.  He stated he is giving up money to come to Coopertown and do that.  He stated that there were officers that have left that were violating the law.  There are current investigations ongoing regarding that.  He stated that first of all, there need to be some goals set.  He wants the Coopertown Police Department to be accredited.  There will be three inspections and then a final inspection.  He is putting together a standard operating procedure manual.  He said there will be an open door policy.  He stated he is putting the brakes on spending.  His goal is to be a community based police department.  He wants the police to visit businesses and find out their concerns.  He has been directed to have 2 officers on the street.  He stated that he wants the officers to be trained.  Accountability and accessibility are important to the Coopertown Police Department.  He talked about the excellent Coopertown schools.  He stated he is not there to berate or beat anybody down.  He said one issue brought before him was racial profiling, which he stated did occur in the past.  He said it will not occur again. 

 

V.         Acting Mayor Long brought the Minutes of the Board Meeting of July 25, 2006.  A question was brought up about a tape missing.  The Board was reminded that there were a lot of comments from the public at that time.  He stated that the minutes are basically verbatim.  Alderman Ruth stated that she needed another minute or two because they were just passed out.   Alderman Gill made a motion to move the approval of the July 25 minutes to next month and Alderman Ruth seconded.  The motion passed unanimously.  Alderman Scott made a motion to approve and waive the oral reading of the minutes of the Planning Commission for April, May, June and July, and also the Board of Zoning Appeals for March, April and May.  The Finance Committee will also be included.  Alderman Ruth commented that the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals minutes have been approved by the committees and sent to the Board.  The people who voted to accept the minutes are not the people who attended the meetings.  She stated it was a whole new set of people.  The motion was seconded.  The motion passed with Alderman Ruth abstaining.

 

VI.        Reports from Committees and Communications from Aldermen:

 

            Alderman Ruth stated she had a report pertaining to the mowing.

 

            Acting Mayor Long said that the Finance Committee met and completed the full budget.  The budget maintains 24 hour a day police protection.  There is money to do road work.  There is money for the schools.  There is money for additional road work that is being planned for the upcoming year.  The budget is being presented without a property tax.  The City should finish the year with somewhere in the nature of $110,000 in surplus.  Acting Mayor Long thanked the Finance Committee for all their hard hours. Committee members included Larry Muhlstadt, Joyce Young, Billy Clark, Ann Crutcher, and Cornelia Gregory.

 

            The next discussion was the purchase of a city tractor.  Alderman Ruth stated that the task as she understood it was for the City to find a way to mow its grass for the remainder of the season.  The City has been using Mayor Crosby's tractor, however the City does own the mower blade.  It will not be using Mayor Crosby's tractor. 

 

            She had state contract prices for tractors.  She had a quote from Red Barn.  She had a quote on a piece of equipment, an all-in-one piece. 

 

            She obtained information from the Mayor of Pleasant View on their mowing arrangements.  She also had information regarding storage buildings and land use.  She stated that perhaps there is no place to put a storage building.  She obtained information from 2 rental places regarding renting a tractor to go with the City's equipment.  Two Coopertown citizens have contacted her with offers of their personal tractors for sale.  One is a 1984 Kubota for $8,000.  Another is a 2004 Kubota with 250 hours for $20,000.  She talked to Mr. Hulsey at the County regarding sub-contracting.  He said Springfield has been talking to him about getting the County equipment to do that.  She also had information from Mr. Niec about the street crew costs.  They are not able to exactly pin down the insurance costs, diesel costs, but she has some of that information. 

 

            She was asked if she had a recommendation for the Board.  Alderman Ruth stated that her recommendation is Power Rental in Springfield.  She was asked if she had copies of the information for the Board to review.  She stated that she did not because she was told to keep it.  Power Rental in Springfield has a 30 hp Kubota tractor for rent. She checked back the day of the meeting, and it was still available.  It has front and rear connections.  She was told it would handle the mower the City has.  They do not offer insurance.  If there is a mechanical breakdown, they recover it.  If the City does damage to it such as cut a tire, the City would have to repair it.  Its $580 a week plus tax.  If Power Rental needed to deliver it, it would be $80 roundtrip.  The tractor weighs 4500 pounds.  She stated her recommendation would be to rent this tractor and finish out the season.  The Board could then take the winter to decide what to do. 

 

            Alderman Ruth was asked if there were guidelines as far as who can drive the tractor.  She stated that she did not ask that question.  She was asked what she found out about purchasing on state contracts.  She said she had the information that was brought to the last meeting.  She was asked if she made any calls on that, she stated no and was asked the reason why.  Acting Mayor Long stated that at the last Board Meeting there was a member of the Finance Committee who stated that the Committee had agreed to purchase their own tractor. She was asked if she did not receive that option.  Alderman Ruth stated that at the meeting they had, her assignment was to look at mowing options.  She stated she did all this work for weeks.  The email she got back from Mr. Long when she offered him the information (and even her offer to take it to his home), his email back to her was to just keep it, that he had his own notes.  Acting Mayor Long asked Alderman Ruth if she called the state contract.  She said no.  Her recommendation was to rent for $580 and use it, rather than spend $35,000, $40,000, $50,000.  Mr. Niec asked her what the terms of the rental were.  Alderman Ruth stated that she asked for a rental for a week.  She was asked who she talked to about the weekly rental of the Kubota, and she said James at Power Rental (382-7368). 

 

            Acting Mayor Long asked if there was any more discussion on Alderman Ruth's recommendation on renting a tractor.  The question was asked if there needed to be anyone out there supervising these guys.  Brian Shepherd was asked to inform the Board what they did over a two week period as far as safety and training.  He stated they went over safety films, talked to Montgomery Highway Department, talked to Springfield.  Montgomery Highway Department provided the films.  Acting Mayor Long stated that the road crews went through a series of training videos and manuals regarding the operation of certain equipment that they use, riding lawnmowers, backhoes, tractors.  There was a safety manual created for each item, and there was a document put in their personnel file stating that they had gone through the training.  Mr. Shepherd was asked regarding areas that are in need of cutting.  He stated that the mower that the City really needed should be a 90 hp mower. 

 

 

            It was suggested that the City go ahead and rent for the next 2 mowing.  It was stated that Alderman Ruth recommended renting the tractor.  Acting Mayor Long asked if the tractor meets their needs for rental, would the Board give him approval to go ahead and rent the equipment.  Mr. Long stated that the Board needed to approve the expenditure.  Alderman Ruth made a motion to authorize Mayor Long to rent a tractor within his spending limits that is adequate to pull the City's mower.  The motion was seconded.  Mayor Long voted yes.  Alderman Gill voted no.  Alderman Ruth voted yes.  Alderman Scott voted yes.  The motion passed.

 

VII.       New Business:

 

            Acting Mayor Long stated that the Board had before it the budget for 2006-2007.   He moved that the Board adopt Ordinance 2006-04 on first reading.  Motion was seconded.  Mayor Long opened it up for discussion.  Alderman Ruth asked if this was the point that he was going to invite Ms. Slawson back in.  He thanked the road crew. 

 

            It was stated by Alderman Scott that the only thing that bothered him was that last year when the City had the budget and he questioned it over and over, it seemed that the budget passed anyway.  He stated he still has problems with the City court fines and     fees being $400,000.  He stated he questioned it last year, he thought it was too high then.  He stated it got the City being called a speed trap on the news, it was in the paper, and it was on the internet nationwide.  He stated that it was too high.  He stated it should come down to even half of that.  Alderman Ruth agreed with Alderman Scott.  She thanked the members of the Finance Committee.  She said that basing the budget on the traffic tickets was not a sound idea.  Mayor Long asked if either Alderman Scott or Alderman Ruth calculate how much revenue that took in, the percentage of revenue.  Alderman Scott stated that it says it took in over $434,401.  Mr. Long asked if he had arrived at a figure.  Mr. Long stated that they needed to look at the figure they took in this year.  He stated that the figure they had was as of June 30 and was $434,000.  He stated that there was another $148,000 in unpaid traffic fines.  Acting Mayor Long stated that when you have police officers out on the road 24 hours enforcing the traffic laws you will have this kind of revenue.  Alderman Ruth stated that apparently other communities don't because in the Tennessean newspaper they publish all kinds of pie charts and graphs, and every other community's source of revenue from fines is a little tiny slice of the pie, and Coopertown's is a great, big piece of the pie.  She stated that it has gotten Coopertown a lot of notoriety.  Alderman Scott stated that $400,000 is too much to have in a budget for fines and fees. 

 

            Alderman Ruth mentioned that the police budget is $506,000, more than the $400,000.  She was asked if they should cut the police department.  She said the police need to be policing.  They don't need to feel that they are the funding the community.  She stated that that was not their function.  She said even if they made every cent of the money proposed, they won't pay for their own department by over $200,000.  It was stated that as costs go up, that will happen.  Alderman Ruth stated that they have a difference in philosophy.  Mayor Long asked if Alderman Ruth and Scott were saying they had absolutely no problems with the budget other than that.  Alderman Ruth said she was not saying that.  She stated that they still have not amended last year's budget that she has been asking about for quite a long time now.   Mayor Long asked Mr. Niec to explain to Alderman Ruth about amending the budget.  Alderman Ruth stated that she did not want Mr. Niec to explain it to her.  She said she has file folders full of correspondence where she has asked for information, where she has explained about amending the budget, she's been told she doesn't understand.  She has talked to the auditor.  She has talked to the comptroller's office.  She's talked to Mr. Dykcus. She stated that it was just not right.  Acting Mayor Long asked her what is not right.  She stated that what was not right was that when she finally gets the expense reports (she's asked for them back for the whole last year) and find out how they end up 300, 400, and 500% over budget in certain categories, and they are continuing to operate City Hall hundreds of percents outside of the budget.  She stated that if you look at an item and it says estimated from last year, they don't know what that really was.  She stated that somewhere between last summer and this summer they have gone very far astray.  She said legally they are required to amend those items.  Alderman Scott said that they asked about that back in November and were told that they were going to amend the budget.  Acting Mayor Long stated that that was the next task that they had to do.  He said the budget ordinances were always amended in the months of August and September because you still have checks coming in.  He said they have just gotten those checks.  Alderman Ruth stated that one of the weaknesses the auditor found in their annual financial report was that every month, the City is supposed to be looking at its spending versus their budget. 

 

            Acting Mayor Long stated that the motion was on the table to accept the ordinance 2006-04.  It was seconded by Alderman Gill.  Acting Mayor Long voted yes.  Alderman Gill voted yes.  Alderman Ruth voted no.  Alderman Scott voted no.  Ordinance 2006-04 for the budget for 2006-2007 failed.

 

            Acting Mayor Long stated that the Board had before it Ordinance 2006-05, fireworks policy, first reading.  This is recommended by the Planning Commission. 

 

            Mr. Rettaliata talked to the Board about the granting of fireworks permits in the past and the Ordinance that has been drafted.  The Ordinance regulates the sale of fireworks within the City.  It sets forth certain conditions and requirements regarding the sale of fireworks.  It was asked who was the person to make sure the regulations were followed.  The answer was the City Recorder. 

 

            Motion was made to adopt Ordinance 2006-05 and seconded.  The motion passed unanimously. 

 

            Ms. Clark discussed the Finance Committee.  Acting Mayor Long said that he is going to ask that Aldermen Ruth and Scott attend the next Finance Committee meeting and make their presentations as to why they feel this is out of the ordinary.  He said they need to give their recommendations as to what they want the budget to do.  He stated that the Finance Committee has spent numerous hours on the budget.  A date will be picked and advertised. 

 

            Ms. Slawson stated that she has spent the whole day doing the job that the personnel department should have done.  She stated that in November Officer Barrera sent a letter to Metro asking them if he could come back.  She said he got a letter back from Officer Serpas that said thank you for your request, but your services are no longer needed.  She asked if that sounded rehire able.  She stated she had $58.00 worth of stuff.  On several occasions, he was suspended.  He had to go to driving school 3 times due to the fact that he had 9 accidents in a patrol car.  She discussed other problems he has had.  She presented the Board with papers regarding the officer.  She said her question was why the personnel department not received the information she got in 3 hours time.   She said every officer they have gotten has come with baggage.  She asked Mr. Long to resign from the Personnel Committee.

 

            Acting Mayor Long said they have run an advertisement for the police chief.  He stated they had had until the 18th to get their resumes in.  He said they will now run a background check on all the individuals that they have narrowed.  They received about 14 or 15, and have narrowed down based on experience, training, qualifications.  They will do a thorough TBI background check on each one, and be narrowed down again and then presented to a review board consisting of Acting Mayor Long, Brian, Ed Niec and three Aldermen.  Each one will review each candidate and interview them one on one.  Mr. Long stated he hopes to start the interviews sometime the second week of September.  There are three candidates from the current police department. 

 

            Alderman Ruth asked why Mr. Barrera was named acting chief in the middle of the interview process.  Mr. Long said the City has to have someone acting as chief.  She asked what happened to Mr. Burgess, and Mr. Long stated that Mr. Burgess has a full-time job.  It was in the best interests of Coopertown to have somebody who could devote full attention to Coopertown. 

 

            The meeting was adjourned by Acting Mayor Long.