Council votes to borrow $10 million to upgrade water and sewer system
by CHRIS NORWOOD
Aug 02, 2010 | 2153 views |  2 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TALLADEGA — The City Council voted unanimously Monday night to borrow $10 million to bring the water and sewer system into compliance with state and federal guidelines.

There was one qualification insisted on by Councilman Donnie Miller.

Council President Horace Patterson called for the motion, saying, “We need to move soon. Interest rates are not going to be where they are now forever. As I recall, we discussed $7.5 million or $10 million.”

Councilman Jimmy Davis said he recalled the $10 million bond would require an increase in fees. Miller agreed.

“I’m concerned with the extra cost, too, but I think we really need to look for a professional manager. Somebody that knows how to get things done. We need leadership, especially since I don’t know the status of James Brasher.”

Brasher, the systems operation manager, has been on medical leave for more than a year.

After Patterson called for the vote to authorize the bonding company to move forward with the $10 million version, Miller said he wanted professional management to be part of the consideration or he would change his vote to an abstention.

“I want someone with some professionalism over this,” Miller said.

Interim city manager Brian Muenger said that he and personnel officer/department manager Cathy Fuller had met with four or five different engineering firms to oversee bond expenditures and a capital improvements program, and that he expected to be making a recommendation within the month.

“I think what we really need,” Davis said, “is more of a chief of operations than an engineer. Brasher has been out for at least a year now.”

Miller agreed, saying the department needed “someone to keep day to day operations running smoothly.”

Councilman Eddie Tucker said he agreed with both versions. “We need professional management, and we need to see if we can get this firm to provide it for us. Not a wholesale takeover, but management and engineering in one package, that can keep abreast of what’s going on. But I want to emphasize that the employees would still stay under the city,” Tucker said.

Muenger said the management companies could provide a management component, but it would be significantly more expensive.

Miller said he wanted someone to “oversee the whole operation. This should be the person the engineer reports to.”

Patterson said, “I have a lot of respect for the people working on the board and I would like to try and find someone from within the ranks. Mrs. Fuller has done a great job.”

During the same meeting, the council voted unanimously to declare the vacancy left by the death of Lance Grissett last weekend. Patterson said the council would name a replacement for the Ward 5 councilman during its next meeting Aug. 16.

The council also agreed to hang Grissett’s official portrait perpetually in the council chamber along with other elected officials who died in office, including Councilwoman Edythe Sims, Councilman John Hill and Mayor Charles Osborne, among others.

Although the council made no mention of who might be appointed to fill the seat, traditionally the spouse of the deceased has been named.

Also Monday night, the council:

• Heard a presentation from Anita Pichon-Grooms of Big Brothers-Big Sisters about the mentoring program, which began serving Talladega and four other counties last year. She asked the council for a $5,000 appropriation in the upcoming budget.

• Heard a presentation from Talladega High School Band Boosters President Tommy McComb asking for a $4,100 appropriation for percussion and wind instruments, electronics and backdrops for the presentation “Talladega 1935,” part of the city’s 175th anniversary year.

• Heard Mayor Brian York present the Top Gun employee of the month award to library aid Sherron Stockdale.

• Approved plans for a 199 foot monopole on Ironaton Road for AT&T, which will provide 2G and 3G service to much of the city.

• Approved a contract with Meeks Environmental Services for sludge hauling at the wastewater treatment plant through November of this year.

• Approved the purchase of turnout gear for the fire department totaling $41,300.

• Approved separate contracts with local Babe Ruth and Cal Ripkin leagues and the Parks and Recreation Department to evenly split the entrance fees for the 2010 All-Star Tournament.

• Agreed to meet Aug. 16 and possibly schedule a separate budget meeting.

• Approved water and sewer invoices by a vote of 3-1, with Tucker dissenting.

• Approved participation in the sales tax holiday from Friday, Aug. 6 to Sunday, Aug. 8.

• Heard Fire Capt. Mark McElroy announce that bids for a new fire truck were ready to be sent out.

• Appointed Andrea Montgomery to the Historic Preservation Commission.

• Heard Tucker ask that ditches that they have maintained in the past that are on private property, be maintained again.

• Discussed, but did not agree upon, parking arrangements for people who live in the apartments on the square.

Contact Chris Norwood at cnorwood@dailyhome.com