MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE WALHALLA CITY COUNCIL
APRIL 21, 2020
Present: Mayor Danny Edwards, Councilman David Underwood, Councilman Dennis Owens, Councilman Josh Roberts, Councilman Keith Pace, Councilman Danny Woodward, Councilwoman Sarai Melendez, and City Administrator Brent Taylor.
Mayor Edwards called the meeting to order at 5:30 pm. Councilman Pace led the pledge of allegiance.
Public Input: None signed up for public input.
Approval of Minutes: On a motion by Mr. Pace, seconded by Mr. Underwood and unanimously carried, the minutes for the regular meetings on March 17, 2020, April 1, 2020, and April 14, 2020, were approved.
Reading of Resolutions and Ordinances:
Mr. Roberts made a motion to approve Ordinance 2020-2 AN ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE EXECUTION OF AN EQUIPMENT LEASE PURCHASE AGREEMENT AMOUNT NOT EXCEEDING FIVE HUNDRED SIXTY-SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS RELATING TO THE PURCHASE OF CERTAIN EQUIPMENT BY THE CITY OF WALHALLA, AUTHORIZING THE EXECUTION OF OTHER NECESSARY DOCUMENTS AND PAPERS IN MATTERS RELATING THERE TO. The motion for discussion was seconded by Mr. Underwood and was unanimously approved.
Discussion: Mr. Taylor explained, “This is executing a lease purchase that was approved in the initial budget of a Jet truck for the water department, two police cars, a pickup truck for the street department, and a fire engine.
Mayor Edwards asked, “If money was taken out of the operating budget to pay for the two police cars temporarily until one lease purchase for all of the equipment could be done?” Instead of doing 2-3 contracts this would lock them all into one and now that money will just go back into the general operating account.” The Administrator replied, “That is correct.”
Mr. Owens asked, “Why it is being called a lease? Mayor Edwards explained, “It is a lease/purchase and at the end nothing is owed.”
Mr. Roberts asked, “If there is any interest involved?” Mayor Edwards stated, “It was figured into the budget and was budgeted over several years.” The fire truck was over a seven year period, the police cars are over a four year period, and the trucks are over a four year period. The interest rate will not exceed 3.6% and taxable at 2.75% with tax exempt. Mayor Edwards said “We took the money out of the operational account for the time being until we could get this money back on the lease purchase. I am not recommending that we amend the budget and pay for them. We could have done that. We chose when we passed this budget; we chose not to do that. We actually talked about that”. He further stated that this is just doing what they budgeted for last June.
Mayor Edwards stated, “They have done this every year for the last nine years that he has been there to buy cars and the same was done when Ms. Goehle was there. They are done through First Citizens or BB&T.”
Mr. Owens asked, “f this is a bond or a loan against future taxes.?” Mayor Edwards said, “It is not.”
Ms. Melendez wanted clarification from Mr. Underwood in reference to the Jet truck being a trailer not a truck. Mr. Underwood explained that it is a large jet pump that is on a trailer with a water tank that is used for clearing clogged sewer lines and is pulled by a truck. It will cut out roots and clear the sewer line. She voiced understanding.
Mr. Roberts made a motion to approve Ordinance 2020-03 AN ORDINANCE AMENDING 2020 BUDGET ORDINANCE 2019-04 SO AS TO RECOGNIZED VARIOUS REVENUE EXPENDITURE IN THE GENERAL FUND. The motion was seconded by Mr. Underwood and unanimously carried.
Discussion: No discussion
Allocation of Property Sale Proceeds
Administrator Taylor explained, “It was recommended at a committee meeting that the proceeds from the sale of automobiles be applied toward the DDC’s Business Retention Grant. The sale ended with approximately twelve thousand dollars.
Mr. Pace made a motion and Mr. Owens seconded it. It was approved unanimously.
Employee Corona Virus Incentive
Administrator Taylor stated that the General Government Committee recommended employees be paid hazard pay of one hundred dollars per week up to eight weeks or when the emergency is over. Specific date to start is to be determined.
Mr. Underwood made a motion and Mr. Woodward seconded the motion. The motion was approved by a vote of 4-3. Mayor Edwards, Mr. Underwood, Mr. Woodward and Mr. Pace voted to approve. Mr. Owens, Mr. Roberts and Ms. Melendez voted in opposition.
Discussion: Mr. Underwood stated, “This will help the employees. He has spoken with some employees and they do not eat out very much right now. He feels that this will help not only the employee but also their families with such things as groceries.” He said, “That other companies are paying hazard pay and it is the least they could do for the employees.” Ms. Melendez said, “That looking at it from an economic level, she thinks that one hundred dollars a week is not a good idea and she does not agree with this at this time. Mr. Pace suggested to make it retro-active to the beginning of April and use the four hundred dollars as an employee hazardous bonus, and then the remaining money to have the employees spending it in town. He would like receipts turned in and then the employee reimbursed. Mr. Underwood stated that it would be overwhelming for the city clerk. Mr. Owens feels that the clerk can handle it and also states that she has a large workload. Mr. Owens stated, “She will be getting an additional eight hundred dollars from the hazardous pay as will every city employee.” Mr. Underwood said that he doesn’t want to be told where to spend his money. He feels that the families know better where the money needs to be spent. Mr. Roberts stated, “The only thing up for discussion is the one hundred dollar a week hazardous pay and all other discussions need to be held at a different time.” Mayor Edwards said “We are talking about helping businesses and we are talking about helping our employees with hazardous pay. They are two separate issues. We voted in committee to do this for our employees because they are out here every day dealing with things that they normally don’t have to deal with. Our fire department, our police department, our street department, they are dealing with people they don’t know if people have the Corona Virus. They don’t know what they stepping into when they go out every morning. This is hazardous pay. We should not try to tell our employees where they spend their pay.” Over nine thousand dollars has been paid out to the business retention grant and others are applying.
It will take affect the first pay period in April until the emergency declaration is lifted or it reaches eight hundred dollars per employee.
Ms. Melendez attempted to make a motion to give employees $100 a week to spend at Walhalla businesses. The Mayor stated that would need to come through committee to be voted on at the next meeting.
Hospitality Tax Funding
Administrator Taylor stated that the Oktoberfest Committee was given three thousand dollars for the graduation banners for Walhalla High School Seniors that will be put up around town. Five thousand dollars is for beautification of Main Street and city parking lot. And five thousand dollars to help get the city pool restored.
Mr. Woodward made a motion and seconded by Mr. Roberts and it was approved unanimously.
Discussion: Mr. Woodward asked, “If the pool does not open if the money will go back into the Hospitality Fund?” Administrator Taylor stated, “The repairs that need to be done at the pool regardless if it opens or not.
Mr. Pace wanted to give a big applause to all city employees that have helped Seneca out during the tornado.
Mr. Pace reported the department ran 111 calls for the month of March. Sixty-one (61) were fire calls and fifty (50) were medical calls. 46 were inside the city while 65 were outside the city. There were 25 incidents of mutual aid. There were 593 hours of training staff. The Fire Marshall performed 10 business inspections, 5 residential inspections and 19 pre-fire plans. An update of the new fire truck was given with discussion.
Mr. Roberts reported the culvert project at South Broad Street is a couple of months ahead of schedule. The Pickle ball court project is nearing completion. The car auction is underway and the proceeds will go the business retention grant.
Mr. Owens reported the department collected 215 tons of residential garbage, 87 tons of commercial garbage, 95 tons of recycled brush, 84 tons of C&D, 32 mattresses and one ton of furniture. The department worked with Utilities Dept. to repair Stumphouse Park. They also worked with the Parks and Recreation Dept. and Utilities Department to make repairs to Sertoma field. Discussed removing recyclable oil station from the police department over to the Street Department. A recommendation on that will be made in the future. Also would like to commend the city employees that are helping out with the tornado relief especially Chief Burton.
Ms. Melendez reported the 8 and under girls basketball team won the state tournament. Baseball and softball season are suspended at least until the end of April. Improvements have been made at the city park including the pickle ball courts construction and cleaning around the courts. The playground equipment and well were cleaned of graffiti. The Chicopee ball field had rye grass planted to get through the winter. The next step is seeding it with a more permanent grass. There was discussion about more funding for the restroom and parking lot. Handicap ramps at the gym were repaired, pressure washed and painted. Mr. Galbreath was asked to explore the opportunity to apply for different grants.
Mr. Woodward reported there was thirteen hours emergency driving training performed by officers. Austin Barnum completed his training at the Police Academy. Issues were discussed regarding the Corona Virus. Kimbler was re-certified for narcotics and patrol duty. They investigated 12 traffic accidents, 73 reports and 31 arrests. They issued 110 tickets and made 243 traffic stops. They answered 1092 calls for service and performed 349 hours of extra patrol.
Mr. Underwood reported a discussion about the water plant operation during the corona virus. Water is still being pumped from Seneca. Stribling Shoals project: the pump is in and the report is back from DHEC and now they are waiting on the bids. The request for more bids is going to be put in the newspaper. Mr. Underwood spoke with Mr. Harris about the problem with his sewer. A camera will be run down into the end of the pipe to determine what is going on. They received an update on the Sewer Authority projects list. The drive through was briefly discussed. The Duck Pond Road project is complete. The repair of the hydrant at Wagner circle was discussed.
Administrator Taylor was asked to get with Chief Burton to determine when parks are to be re-opened.
Mayor’s Comments: none.
A motion was made to end the meeting and it was seconded.
Erin Green, Clerk Of Court