Council discusses town finances

Town of Cleveland

Finances were again the main topic for the Cleveland Town Council during Monday’s meeting.

The council was presented with a comparison of the last fiscal quarters of 2007 and 2008. In 2008, the budget deficit was $33,881. Utilities, gas, and oil seem to be the main expenses. It’s suggested that all departments keep a watchful eye on thermostats, unused lighting, and other common-sense measures.

Costs were also reported up for the water department. After review, councilor Kandy Little found that a large amount of the expense was from a rug service where the coverings are rented and maintained by an outside source. It was agreed that this was an unnecessary expense that will be cancelled and new rugs will be purchased in their place. An ordinance has also been passed to set spending limits in each department with purchase orders over $50 re- quiring authorization from a department head. Emergency services and materials will be excluded as well as routine monthly supplies, which will be pre-approved. The council has agreed to review the ordinance in detail, with a possibility of amending in the near future, but all agree that the budget should be a priority.

Councilman David Grigsby moved to hire another part-time police officer, Tracey Lipscomb, who currently is employed by the Blount County Sheriff’s Department. The motion passed unanimously.

Grigsby also mentioned for the record that the police department is in dire need of new vehicles. “The main goal here,” stated Grigsby, “is that we have at least one good, dependable vehicle for the police department.”

The two Ford Crown Victorias that are currently used by Cleveland have in excess of 200,000 miles and are in desperate need of repair. The possibility of leasing a car through the city of Birmingham seemed to be one option versus a purchased vehicle from the State of Alabama. Grisgby will present further information for discussion at a later date.

Another idea mentioned by Grigsby was to have municipal court within the town of Cleveland. Currently, Cleveland is only receiving 5 percent of court costs and revenues from fines. “With our own municipal court, all the money would stay here,” said Grigsby. Town attorney Stan Glasscock recommended looking at the early stages of this development first; such as hiring and training a part-time municipal court clerk. The city would also need to hire a prosecutor and a judge to serve on the court. “Pay schedules will be comparable to those in Snead and Blountsville,” stated Glasscock, “due to case load and population.” It was agreed that this should be reconsidered after further research. Glasscock will present some figures based upon the cities previously mentioned.

Councilman Glenn Puckett had noticed that an ordinance of the last meeting had possibly been passed incorrectly. The ordinance in question was relating to a street and park superintendent. It seems this ordinance was signed but not voted on. “I know I didn’t vote on it,” he said. Glasscock reviewed the rules required for this ordinance and it will also need further research. “If we’ve done something wrong, we’ll just have to go back and change it,” council member Mike Evans said.

Dr. Ted Williams, who had volunteered to serve on the medical committee, declined at the last minute due to a scheduling conflict. As soon as this was brought forth, Jerry Wayne volunteered to serve in his place. The three members of the medical board are Tracy Sherrer, Wavelyn Henderson, and Thomas.

Repairs for the ballpark will be reported at the next meeting. The concession stand is set to open Feb. 16.

Tim Evans, a representative from GeoMet Engineering, was present. He was hoping for approval of a 15-x-30-foot right-ofway on town property.

GeoMet states their main objective is to place new pipe on the property so they can connect to one of their existing wells. They are also presenting a surface-use agreement in which the city would be compensated for any oil and gas extracted. Glasscock recommended an executive session be held to discuss this matter.

Also expected to appear on the executive meeting agenda will be an appeal from Steve Pass. The meeting will be tonight at 6 p.m. at the town hall. Any questions as to the outcome can be directed to the council immediately following to those who are present.

All councilmen were present at the Feb. 8 meeting. Mayor Larry Longshore did not attend.