Snead struggles with procedural questions

Councilman James Campbell at the latest council meeting challenged a $1470 bill for LED lights on a Snead Volunteer Fire Department vehicle. He said he valued the lights at $500. Campbell indicated he felt the council should have been required to approve an item that expensive. The council had approved the purchase in the prior regular session but without an estimated figure.

Mayor pro tem Charles Sanders, acting in place of Tim Kent, asked fire chief Lee Netherton whether he had checked on other prices. Netherton explained he had checked and that the questioned charge was the cheapest. Sanders reminded the council that it had approved the purchase and that, based on his experience, the price is in line with usual charges for the lights.

Councilman Jack Freeman offered, “I would like to see us, me and everyone else, bring up [a matter] at one meeting and vote on it later.” He then exempted emergency situations and conceded that the LED lights might have fallen in that category. “I am thinking of voting ‘No’ if not [given time to consider future proposals],” he concluded. He asserted that the police department was one of the worst offenders in its requests.

Councilman Curtis Painter suggested the council might need a 30-minute work session before each of its regular meetings to examine such matters. Sanders added, “I think we need to discuss a lot more on this spending [issue].”

Despite his concerns, Painter seconded councilor Phillip McHan’s earlier motion to pay the bills. The motion passed without further discussion.

Utilities supervisor Jeff Whited advised councilors of his discussion with town engineer Robert Nelson on sewer-grant construction. Whited explained problems related to the planned installation of backwater valves on sewer connections to individual septic tanks.

Whited appeared to believe the department might need to install a grinder pump with each valve, which would increase the costs to $700 or so for each residence [clarified at around two dozen sites in response to the question from McHan].

Whited also asserted that the town would need permission from property owners to install the valves, since they would be on lines within private property. [The valves are intended to prevent the town’s sewer system from receiving overflow from septic tanks during heavy rains and forcing its pumps to run too frequently.]

Whited and Freeman then theorized possible approaches to addressing overflows with a sewer line that crosses a ditch at the industrial park.

Freeman had concluded the sewer plant laboratory needs a 16-foot expansion, which he envisions may be made at around $16,000. He suggested the lab needs a floodlight, a cost he estimates at $1000. He suggested that while working on those matters, laborers could handle the industrial park sewer-line problem.

The council approved Freeman’s request presented at the last council meeting for $2000 for work at the industrial park and senior citizen center. Most of that is cosmetic or in landscaping.

Before adjournment, Painter presented his concerns that fire department donations for some residences covered by the Snead fire department are going to the Marshall County-Douglas fire department. Whited said he had spoken with Douglas officials, who say they will forward the money to Snead but only with written statements from those so affected.

Mayor Tim Kent missed the Feb. 15 meeting; all regular councilors attended. The council holds regular sessions the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in the community center.