VIDEO: Geraldine sewer project on hold pending financial decisions
May 10, 2017
Southern Torch (3854 articles)

VIDEO: Geraldine sewer project on hold pending financial decisions

PHOTO:  Mayor Chuck Ables discusses an ordinance with the town council on declaring certain town property surplus. (Tyler Pruett | Southern Torch)

By Tyler Pruett, Managing Editor

GERALDINE, Ala. — (Video at bottom) The meeting started Monday night with a discussion over the minutes of the workshop, which took place on Tuesday before the meeting. Councilman Terry Harris found issue with the wording of the minutes as recorded. The Mayor agreed to review the tape and make changes as needed to the minutes of the recent workshop. The council then approved the minutes as recorded for the last regular meeting.

Mayor Ables reported that Barry Weisner, of Every Watt Matters, had stopped by town hall to get copies of the town’s utility bills to conduct an energy audit, and see what energy savings might be available. The City of Rainsville recently signed a contract with the company, which installs energy saving devices which can help a municipality save money on their power bills.

The council then moved to change the, “Back to School” Tax Free Holiday for the town from the first weekend in August to the third weekend in July. The cities of Rainsville and Fort Payne have already moved theirs. The new dates for tax free school supplies will be on July 21 – 23rd.

By means of roll call vote, the council then approved Resolution 2017-05-08B, which declared certain town property as surplus, or, “certain items of property that are no longer needed.” The items included items such as iron bleachers, 14 fluorescent light fixtures from the splash pad, wood rocking chairs, wood wicker rocking chair, wall heaters, wooden school desks, and office desk chairs. The town will accept bids on the property until 4 pm, May 31, 2017, and will be sold to the highest bidder. If no bids are received the property will be disposed of. By roll call vote, the council approved the surplussing of town property. Potential bids will be opened on June 6, at 5 pm.

The council then voted to approve a new street light addition procedure. After this vote, the council then discussed opening bids for tree-trimming. Mayor Ables pointed out that Councilman Harris would have to stay out of the discussion, as he had a son that owns a local tree trimming business. The council approved the measure to let bids for tree trimming. Ables pointed out after the vote that Harris’ son could submit bids, but state law prohibits him from voting on the matter. The deadline for bids will be 4 pm on May 22, and will be opened at 4 pm, on May 23, 2017.

The mayor also reported that the interim sewer financing had not come through yet, and they are still awaiting confirmation. In the next item of business, the council voted to grant a renewal for the franchise of the DeKalb-Cherokee Gas Board. Councilman Larry Lingerfelt asked the mayor if they will receive an increase in the franchise fee, to which Mayor Ables explained that exists a state law that prohibits the town from increasing the tax. The franchise renewal was approved.

After the franchise was approved, Councilman Harris asked if the DeKalb County Board of Education had contributed their portion of the money needed to start the aforementioned sewer project.

“From what I understand, we have to spend our $360,000 before we can go to the next step, is that correct? How are we going to spend it when we don’t have it all? Because the $125,000 we’re supposed to be getting from the board of education, we’ve got to have that in place to spend that $360,000, that’s part of that $360,000 we have to spend, is that right?” Harris asked the mayor, to which he confirmed. Then Harris asked, “So how are we going to get that $125,000 to spend?”

“In that $360,000, we subtract $123,500 spent on the land, and the $15,500 we’ve already paid, so that gets it down to $222,500. In order to spend that, we’re going to need to borrow that from the bank,” explained.

“If we can get it from the board of education, then we won’t have to borrow it,” Ables replied.

“Have they voted on it? Because if they have can we not request that check?” Harris asked.

“They have voted to do that, and I’ve just asked the superintendent, and I’ve done a phone call, then I did it in an email, so we’ll have record of it. And I’ve asked when we can get that money; all of it, some of it, and his reply was that he would talk to Anthony Cooper, their financial guy,” said Ables.

“If we don’t get that check, do you think we need to get on the agenda, you or some of us or all of us. It’s time to write the check. If they want sewer at the school, it’s time for them to do what they promised they would do,” said Harris.

The council then discussed the status of the project, and what needs to be done to get the project started. Town Attorney Nikki Scott explained that the financing has to be in place to hold a pre-construction conference to lay out the plans going forward.

“From what I understand, temporary financing has to be in place, and the money we have to spend down has to be spent before we can hold the conference,” explained Scott.

“If we need to borrow the $125,000, then we have to go borrow that and pay interest on it, so that we can get this thing started. The rest of the council can say what they think, but I’m ready to get this thing started,” said Harris.

The council decided to try and contact the Board of Education again before committing to borrow the money to start the project. After this discussion, the council went into executive session, to which City Attorney Scott explained that it was appropriate as it was to discuss imminent litigation.

After the meeting, Mayor Ables stated that he had emailed the superintendent about the money since Monday’s meeting, and explained the situation: “The DeKalb County Board of Education voted to contribute the money a couple of years ago, but the administration has changed since then and it’s been a while. I’ve talked to Superintendent Barnett in the past about it, as he’s a close friend of mine, and he’s assured me that they’ll contribute. It’s not a matter of if, but when.”

Watch the Full Video (Part 1):

Watch the Full Video (Part 2):


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