Snead awaits Susan Moore on $300K grant

Jeff Whited, director of the Snead utility department, says his agency now awaits action from Susan Moore to proceed on a $300,000 water improvement grant. Updating Snead councilors in their regular meeting last week, Whited detailed how his department will cover the additional matching costs required when bids came in over budget.

The low bid on the anticipated $250,000 project totaled over $35,000 above that figure. The Snead council, in its prior Oct. 22 meeting had agreed to fund the additional costs. Susan Moore has made the grant application but Snead will provide the $90,000 matching funds.

Whited had advised councilors in that earlier meeting that 30 to 40 percent of the utility’s water leaks come from the Gilliland Road line where the upgrade is scheduled. He noted that Marshall County neighbor Douglas provides water through a joint purchase agreement.

Anticipating his department will save enough in water purchases to offset matching costs for the project, Whited had urged the council to approve the extra expenditure. In the more recent meeting, Whited explained how he planned to cover the increase by delaying water tank painting a year and closely supervising construction work to trim costs wherever possible.

Town attorney Brett King received assurance from Whited that CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) officials would permit cost savings beyond the initial agreement.

Police chief Stephen Gunn won approval to purchase a new road-ready Tahoe for his department. The $39,011.64 expenditure falls below an already budgeted figure of $44,500. Gunn anticipates the Tahoe will replace the prior canine vehicle which has over 140,000 miles of service.

Councilors also agreed to purchase $120 jackets for each of their police officers and to add Bradley Seward and William Matthew Smith to the police auxiliary force. As usual, those appointments hinge on candidates’ passing physical and background checks.

Councilman Gregg Ogles asked Whited of actions in addressing business owner Phillip Cleveland’s prior requests for assistance in his latest apartment construction. Whited said the two had agreed to permit three taps to each water meter rather than the normally limited two. Whited justified that based on anticipated lower water usage for one-bedroom apartments.

After the council approved paying for a court training class for new employee Hannah Wright, Ogles asked about moving Wright to full-time employment. Town clerk Rae Ware noted that she had not computed that in her budget for fiscal year 2019. Ogles responded of the need for that additional help.

Councilman Dale Snead proposed the council have Ware compute the cost of such a promotion to present at the next council meeting. Members also agreed not to act on Ware’s budget proposal until that meeting and following a 30-mintue scheduled workshop immediately prior to that. The proposed budget Ware distributed provides anticipated total revenues of $2,475,631 and expenses of $2,328,152.

In other business from the prior October 22 session, councilors had then approved upgrading one of the town hall restrooms to handicap accessibility. Ware had explained that failing to provide such access adversely affects town grant applications.

In minutes from that session, councilors agreed to pursue obtaining a two-year old Labrador as the town’s new drug and rescue canine and accepted a settlement paid in response to the death of the former canine officer, Didi. They agreed to a $15,786.86 emergency dispatch contract with 911 and to purchase a traffic camera to cover the main town intersection and surrounding areas.

Mayor La’Shone Price had advised the council of Rodney Gray’s offer to sell 1.35 acres of land between the town storm shelter and the Big John’s furniture building. In the later meeting, King advised councilors they might wish to hold an executive session at the end of their next meeting to outline negotiations with Gray over that property.

Councilman Tim Kent missed both the Oct. 22 and Nov. 13 meetings. Mayor pro-tem Ann Sullins presided at the Nov. 13 session in the absence of Price. Councilor Phillip McHan joined Ogles, Snead, and Sullins for both, the later held on Tuesday rather than the scheduled Monday meeting which fell on the celebrated Veteran’s Day Holiday. The Nov. 26 meeting returns to the regular schedule of the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m., although members have set a workshop for 30 minutes prior that night. The council meets in the town community center.