Lepanto considering ordinance to appoint parks commission

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Lepanto City Council reviewed an ordinance Tuesday night that would establish a Parks Commission.

The commission would work independently of the city council and be responsible for the finances and running of all city parks, including the sports complex. City Attorney Noyl Houston said the ordinance would allow the council to turn over complete control of operating the parks to the commission.

The commission would set the rules and regulations, make a quarterly report to the council, and have a yearly audit. Members of the commission would serve five year terms, and while the commission would not have access to sales tax money, the city has authority to make appropriations from the general fund to supplement the parks fund.

The council followed Mayor Steve Jernigan's recommendation to postpone voting on the ordinance so they can take more time to study it.

Michael Pierce, who is currently on the advisory committee for the sports complex, took the time to clear up some things regarding Anthony Smith, whom the council replaced last month as sports complex manager. He said Smith did not "slack off" and that he did do a lot of work at the sports complex, but said the job was just much bigger than Smith expected and he was a little overwhelmed.

"He helped out quite a bit. It just didn't work out," Pierce said.

The council also voted to make an amendment to the occupational license penalty clause. The amendment will state that businesses must pay for their occupational license by Jan.31 or the rate will double. If they do not pay it by the end of February, they will have to go to court.

EPC Superintendent Michael Pierce spoke to the council about the four mill increase the school is asking for. The district, which has one of the lowest millage rates in the state, is asking for the increase to accomplish two objectives, first to replace windows in the Tyronza and Lepanto elementary schools with more energy efficient windows to keep utility costs down and, secondly, to make the salary schedule more competitive so the school has a better chance of retaining teachers.

There are two public meetings scheduled to discuss the millage increase request. One will be Sept. 6 at the Tyronza Elementary cafeteria and the other will be Sept. 12 in the Lepanto cafeteria. The 2011 school election will be Sept. 20.

Three people resigned from the Planning and Zoning Commission. Mayor Jernigan nominated Roger Tyler, Dennis Smith and Lee Buchanan to replace them, and the council unanimously approved the nominations.

The council had hoped to settle the purchase of a 1994 ambulance from the city by Riverside Ambulance. They thought David Simmons of Riverside Ambulance would be present but did not realize there was also a fire department meeting at the same time. The matter has been postponed until next month.

City Clerk Tamara Wyatt said the street fund was over budget because there had been more expenses than expected this year. She noted she has had to loan money out of the general fund into the street fund to keep it balanced. She said after the turnback dropped from the population decrease, the street fund was at negative $1,692.

The street fund has a CD from 1985 that matures Sept. 3 with a value of over $27,000. She suggested keeping $5,000 in the CD, paying into the general fund what it is owed from the street fund and using the remainder to balance the street fund. The council unanimously approved.

Earlier Mayor Jernigan noted there were a few items in the city financial that would be close or could go over budget because of increased fuel costs. One example, he said, is the budget for police fuel. He noted $20,000 was budgeted for the year, and the police department already has spent $15,000. "It's going to be touchy for the rest of the year," he added.

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