MT council, new mayor tackle long agenda

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Marked Tree City Council held a nice, long meeting Monday to kick off a new year with new mayor Wayne Nichols.

The council approved the financial and water statements and heard committee reports from the airport, fire, police, street, sanitation and water departments, as well as parks and recreation.

On parks and recreation, the council discussed banners down at the little league field which need to be repaired and a new parking lot and walking trail which are not up to specification and needing to be fixed. Those items will be on the agenda for the next meeting.

In new business, a concerned citizen asked about help from the city in fixing a driveway. Mayor Nichols said he had looked at the driveway that day but noted it is against the law to take public funds and spend them on private property.

The council approved the transfer of $5,000 from the general fund to municipal judges and clerks.

The council passed a resolution to approve the 2011 budget.

"We don't have excess money, and we have a lot of things going up," Nichols said. He also suggested setting aside two or three percent for city raises for city employees who "do a great job" and said he will propose drug testing for city employees.

The council discussed water rate increases, looking into insurance on the water pumps and the possibility that the new factory will bring in surplus money since it may use around 400,000 gallons of water. This issue was tabled for now.

The Robert Leet-Corday inheritance money left to the fire department and police department was discussed. Nichols suggested saving it to use with matching grants to get a greater value.

The Tornado Siren Grant was discussed. It is a $15,000 matching grant for two sirens. The siren by ASU needs be replaced because it was struck by lightning. The council against action at this time. The deadline to spend the money is in October. The mayor suggested talking to Three Rivers Nursing Home and ASU about matching the money.

The council also discussed FEMA money received for fixing several areas affected by flooding.

The council looked at the price of a new recycling truck which will be bought with funds from NEA Recycling. The truck is ordered, but the money has not yet arrived. The council decided to do more investigation into the prices and report back next month.

Marked Tree also needs a new truck for the water department. The council looked at one price bid which totals $27,031 and will bring up an ordinance next month to waive competitive bidding so the truck may be purchased.

The council approved a resolution to pay $68,000 from the general fund for a fee on work already completed on the airport runway.

The council discussed annexing a church and house, which also houses a daycare, on Highway 149, which is within 50 yards of the city limits. The daycare wants to be inside the city limits for police protection. The council will look at the issue next month.

The council also discussed animal control problems and complaints of dogs such as pit bulls on public property.

Nichols said part of the reason there was so much on the agenda was that he "wants transparency in what's going on with the city."

The council voted to lift the freeze on spending that was put in place in November.

A matching grant of $100,000 for playground equipment was brought up and will be discussed at the next meeting.

An ordinance to establish a flood prevention program passed. This is part of a FEMA plan and must be passed in order to be eligible for flood insurance.

In other business, the fire department brought up the issue of needing road signs around Carson street. Council members said they will look into it.

Toward the end of the meeting, a member of the audience asked if the city was starting the new year with no money. Nichols replied, "We're bent bad. We're going to need to be frugal."

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