Lepanto Council amends ordinance for sewer work, passes budget

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Lepanto City Council had to amend an ordinance Tuesday night so work could begin on sewer lines as part of the bond money voters approved a couple years ago for water line replacement.

According to City Attorney Noyl Houston, the ordinance which had called for the special election called for water and sewer improvements, and the voters approved that ordinance. But when the bond ordinance was approved, it only listed water improvements--not sewer--because at the time it was written up, only plans for water improvements had been submitted. Mayor Dale Dunlap said when the job was bid out, it was bid as water and sewer improvements, so there is approximately $250,000 of bond money meant for sewer improvements that has not been expended. The ordinance was amended to include sewer improvements as originally approved by voters.

The council also looked at the 2017 proposed operating budget. The main discussion centered around the code enforcement officer and police pay. Alderman Earnie Hill questioned the need for a code enforcement officer considering the small size of Lepanto. He said he thought the $9,500 budgeted for the code enforcement officer could be better spent elsewhere. Hill also said he has gotten numerous complaints from the community on the code enforcement officer, Charles Mahan, and said many citizens feel it is a conflict of interest for Mahan to be code enforcement officer and also serve on the city council. Mahan was absent for the night's meeting. Mayor Dunlap said he did not see it as a conflict of interest.

Hill suggested the mayor and police department could work together on code enforcement, but the mayor said the police do not have time to do that. Alderman Sarah Case wanted to table the matter until next month so the council would have more time to look into it, but the council voted to do away with the code enforcement position with only Case voting against it.

Hill also wanted to give Police Chief Chad Henson a one dollar raise like the other two full-time officers instead of the fifty cent raise budgeted. The council approved that change along with giving another employee a raise as he was the only one not receiving a raise in the budget. The council approved the budget with these changes with Sarah Case voting against.

The council also approved the purchase of a brush truck for the fire department. The truck is available through the Forestry Commission and will still belong to the Forestry Commission, but the skid that will be put on will belong to the city. The cost is around $9,500 out of Act 833 money, so it will not cost the city. The truck will be used at wrecks and brush fires in the country.

In other business, Mayor Dunlap said the city is scheduled to $250,000 worth of state aid in street resurfacing early this year. During his State of the City address, the mayor said last year was productive. "We started hauling our own garbage and are actually making money. And our water line project is almost done," Dunlap said. "All said and done, it's been a pretty good year."

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