Council approves pay increase, routine business

Cleveland Town Council

The Cleveland Town Council met Thursday to make up for the regular monthly meeting that was to be held March 14, but was postponed due to threatening weather.

Prior to the council meeting, a public hearing was held to discuss an alcohol application for the Cleveland Citgo convenience store, which is owned by FFRZM, Inc. According to town attorney Alex Smith FFRZM, Inc. recently purchased the business, but did not transfer the alcohol license prior to closing the sale. He said that the new owners now had to go through the process of applying for a license. There were no questions asked during the hearing. The town’s Alcohol Control Board then met in sequester to discuss the application.

When the council meeting started, Mayor Jerry Jones brought the matter to the council and asked Steve Pass, chairman of the Alcohol Control Board, for a recommendation. Pass recommended the council vote to approve the application; it did so unanimously. The mayor explained the council’s vote will be forwarded to the Alabama Beverage Control Board for the next step in the licensing process.

Blount County Sheriff Department Captain Ron Adkins was present to discuss and answer questions about the increase in the cost charged for housing a municipal inmate. The amount has gone from $10 to $15 a day. He explained a lot goes into inmate supervision, including medical care, uniforms and their cleaning, toiletries, and meals. There was little discussion.

The mayor noted we were entering the tornado season, and said he received complaints about the warning sirens not going off during last week’s tornado near Cleveland. He and utilities supervisor Pass explained the National Weather Service has become very sophisticated in narrowing down the quadrant a storm threatens, and only the sirens in that quadrant will be activated. They also explained the municipalities do not control the sirens; the county’s Emergency Management Agency does.

Jones observed mosquito season is here as well, and wants to make sure everyone gets rid of any containers that are a breeding ground for the disease carrying pests. He noted it is a health hazard not to do so, and the police will be vigilant.

Jones reported the police department’s policy manual has been completed after several months of work by chief Bill Ferry, Smith, and the mayor. Ferry said the manual will help reduce the town’s liability.

The police department submitted a request to purchase three breathalyzer kits for DUI investigations. Ferry said the kits were the type recommended by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. The kits cost $579 each. The council approved the purchase without dissent.

Ferry addressed the council, noting he has just completed one year of service as chief. He thanked the council for their confidence and support in moving the police department forward. Jones complimented Ferry saying, “You’ve done a good job.”

Pass presented the Municipal Water Pollution Prevention report to the council. The report outlines data about waste water discharge by the water treatment plant. The report, according to Pass, indicates there are no significant problems or recommendations for corrective action.

In park news, Jones said Smith was working on an ordinance making it a ticketable violation to drive the wrong way on the one-way street in the park. While there are one-way signs posted now, there is currently not an ordinance making it illegal.

The future pay raise for the mayor and council discussed at the last two council meetings was brought before the council again, and a motion was made to accept the recommendation by the committee established to study the matter. The committee had suggested doubling the salaries of the mayor and council, meaning the mayor would earn $800 a month and council members $200. The new salaries passed without objection. They will take effect with the next municipal election; members will be inaugurated in Oct. 2020.

The council is composed of Mayor Jones, councilmen Doug Hill, Tommy Swindle, Sherry White, James Bynum, and James Sullivan. Sullivan was not present at the meeting. The council’s regular meeting is the second Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. at the town hall.