MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING
OF THE WALHALLA CITY COUNCIL
September 17, 2019
Present: Mayor Danny Edwards, Councilman David Underwood, Councilman Robbie Burrell, Councilman Dennis Owens, Councilman Tjay Bagwell, Councilman Danny Woodward, Councilman Josh Roberts, and City Administrator Brent Taylor.
Mayor Edwards called the meeting to order at 5:30 pm. Councilman Underwood led the pledge of allegiance.
Public Input: Mr. Marty Flynn spoke briefly about himself and his connection to the area. He commended the City for preserving Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel. Mr. Flynn gave a brief history of the Irish contributions to the area, emphasizing their work on the tunnel. He would like to partner with the City to establish a monument to recognize their contributions and create an Irish festival to celebrate Irish culture. Mark Thompson, Director of the Walhalla Performing Arts Council, added his support for the initiative and also thanked the City for their year-round support of the Center. Mr. Taylor added the monument could be located on the City’s future greenway project. He stated it could be a potential tourist attraction. Mr. Flynn stated he would begin raising money if Council supports it. Council confirmed it’s support.
Approval of Minutes: On a motion by Mr. Bagwell, seconded by Mr. Woodward and unanimously carried, the minutes for the regular meeting on August 20, 2019, were approved.
Reading of Resolutions and Ordinances:
Mr. Woodward made a motion to adopt Ordinance 2019-13, AN ORDINANCE TO REPEAL ORDINANCE 2019-10. The motion was seconded by Mr. Bagwell and unanimously carried.
Discussion: The Administrator reported the current title of the City’s ordinance was causing confusion between it and the state statue when officers entered the charge into the system. This will eliminate the confusion. The easiest way to resolve the issue is to repeal this ordinance and approve another ordinance.
Mr. Woodward made a motion to adopt Ordinance 2019-14, AN ORDINANCE MAKING IT UNLAWFUL TO REFUSE TO ACCOMPANY A POLICE OFFICER, INTERFERRING WITH A POLICE OFFICER IN PERFORMANCE OF THEIR DUTIES, ESTABLISHING PENALTIES AND OTHER MATTERS RELEATED THERETO. The motion was seconded by Mr. Bagwell and unanimously carried.
Mr. Bagwell made a motion to adopt Ordinance 2019-15, AN ORDINANCE TO AMMEND ORDINANCE 1989-1 CREATING THE POSITION OF PURCHASING AGENT AND ESTABLISHING PURCHASING PROCEDURES FOR THE TOWN OF WALHALLA. The motion was seconded by Mr. Underwood and unanimously carried.
Discussion: Mr. Underwood asked, “Does this pertain to credit cards?” The Administrator replied, “Employees can spend up to $1,000 without having to get a quote.”
Mayor Edwards suggested a change in Section II regarding purchases from $1,000 to $5,000 to change “must get two verbal or written quotes” to “getting two written quotes.”
Mr. Bagwell suggested construction project contracts should have the Administrator’s approval as opposed to the Clerk/Treasurer, because there are more issues involved with them than just the cost.
Mr. Paris was asked his thoughts. He said, “It should be fine as long as response time is good.”
Mr. Burrell inquired shouldn’t department heads be able to manage their budget. Mr. Taylor responded it isn’t about the amount it is about the other elements in a contract.
Mr. Bagwell made a motion to amend the Ordinance in Section 2 to include remove “verbal” and to include “Administrator and Clerk Treasurer in the Administrator’s absence”. Mr. Roberts seconded the motion. It passed Unanimously.
Mr. Underwood made a motion to adopt Ordinance 2019-12, AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND 2019-6 TO REGULATE, RESTRICT AND LIMIT, IN THE INTEREST OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY, THE USE AND OPERATION OF THE WATER WORKS SYSTEM MAINTAINED AND OWNED BY OR WHICH MAY BECOME THE PROPERTY OF THE CITY OF WALHALLA AND PROVIDING FOR VIOLATION THEREOF.
Discussion: The motion was seconded by Mr. Bagwell. The motion passed 5-2. Mayor Edwards and Mr. Underwood voted no.
Mr. Paris explained the balanced carried forward before a customer goes on the cutoff list will be increased from $15 to $65. The balance includes penalties and garbage collection fees.
Mr. Underwood asked, “If billing would be improved?” Mr. Paris stated the customer has about 12-13 days from the time he receives his bill to the due date. Mr. Parris said, “The goal is to get to 15 days.”
Mr. Bagwell asked, ” Is this going to cause any processing issues? Especially, with people who stay perpetually a month behind.” Mr. Paris said, “There would be no changes how it is processed.”
The Mayor said, “We can always change it if doesn’t work.”
Mr. Bagwell made a motion to change the balance carried forward from $65 to $75. He wanted balance carried forward higher than the non-payment fee. He also recommended changing the non-payment fee from $25 back to the original $65. Mr. Burrell seconded the motion. It was approved 5-2. Mayor Edwards and Mr. Underwood voted no.
Mr. Bagwell stated 2% of the customers in a given month are responsible for being on the cut-off list which creates a lot of work for staff. Therefore, we should keep the penalty stiff.
Mr. Owens inquired are we charging enough for the expense of reconnecting people?
Mr. Paris believes we are, but it does cost more for after-hours reconnects due to overtime.
Mr. Underwood and Mayor indicated the $65 the non-payment fee is too high.
Mayor Edwards asked for public comment. Mr. Kelvin Bryant questioned putting the non-payment fee back to $65. Mr. Burrell responded, “If $25 doesn’t recoup the cost, why do it?”
Randy Chastain inquired with Council of their motivation for passing this. He asked “Is this being done because of attention from the media.”
Norm Canada, reporter for The Journal, asked for clarification on the $75 fee. Mr. Bagwell explained it is a non-payment fee, not a reconnect fee.
Approval of Hospitality Tax fund expenditure to the Chamber of Commerce
Mr. Bagwell made a motion that Council approve $2,400 for entertainment for the Main St. Oktoberfest. Mr. Burrell seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.
Approval to hire an additional water meter reader in the water department.
Mr. Underwood made a motion to hire an additional meter reader in the water department. It was seconded by Mr. Woodward and approved unanimously.
Discussion: Mr. Owens asked, “Will adding staff improve service?” Mr. Paris responded it should get bill read more accurately, which in turn should improve processing time. The maintenance crew should be able to spend more time on projects and not have to read meters.
Approval of Treasurer and Clerk to Council job description position
Mr. Bagwell made a motion to approve the Clerk to Council/Treasurer position. It was seconded by Mr. Owens and approved unanimously.
Mr. Owens reported the department ran 126 calls for the month of August. Sixty-four (64) were fire calls and sixty-two (62) were medical calls. They were on mutual aid 33% of the time and on scene for an average of 30 minutes. The Fire Marshall performed eighteen business inspections and seven residential inspections.
Mr. Bagwell reported everything has been covered. The Administrator reported the restrooms at Stumphouse have been installed and are working well.
Mr. Burrell reported that the department collected 328 tons of residential garbage and 11 tons of commercial garbage. An employee retired. The department received a $2,000 safety grant from the Municipal Association.
Mr. Roberts reported that all fall sports have started. Homecoming for football is September 14 and Super Saturday for Soccer is September 21.
Mr. Woodward reported two police officers are at the Police Academy. The department has reinstated the Reserve Officer Program. They received a grant for $23,900 for body cameras and software. The Chief showed a new type of taser he would like to purchase. All vehicles have stop sticks.
Mr. Underwood reported the committee discussed improving customers billing to provide 15 days to pay the bill from the time they receive it. The committee recommended hiring a part-time water clerk and a full-time meter reader. Discussed adjusting the non-payment fee.
Mayor’s Comments: He stated the council worked through many issues this evening. We may not always agree, but we are all working for the betterment of the City. Anything that we have done can be undone if it doesn’t meet expectations.
A motion was made to go into executive session to discuss a personnel matter. No action was taken. The meeting adjourned.
Brent Taylor, City Administrator