Council approves 2011 budget except for park and recreation

The Snead Town Council delayed approval of its park and recreation budget, while accepting town clerk Rae Ware’s recommendations for all other departments. In a work session immediately prior to its regular Sept. 13 meeting, councilors Curtis Painter and Jack Freeman expressed concerns over the proposed budget.

Both said they felt the town should appropriate more for street and road maintenance. Ware expressed sympathy for their views but contended the town did not have resources to increase significantly the $27,000 she had allocated for that item. She urged the council schedule resurfacing all town roads over a period of several years.

As for park and recreation, Ware noted the town did not have revenue to support Freeman’s request for an additional $3500. Councilman Phillip McHan suggested the council might approve the nearly $2-million budget excluding that item, which the council eventually did. Ware told Freeman that he would need either to find additional funds to meet his wishes or re-examine those.

In the work session, Freeman said he felt the town had not done its part to match efforts of those who volunteer for the parks. He also lamented that the town does not offer activities for those too young to participate in the town sports leagues. McHan echoed Freeman’s concerns.

Ware countered Freeman’s charge that the town has not spent significantly on the parks. She reminded him of around $10,000 spent on new bleachers. Both noted the town had provided funds for reroofing concession stands and other facilities. Councilors had also provided funds for field upgrading and maintenance. Freeman reiterated his desire to construct a water spray park for children. Ware said the ballpark will soon need new light poles, which will entail tens of thousands of dollars.

At the end of the regular session, Freeman opposed police chief Phillip Weaver’s request for more than $3600 to repaint two police cruisers. The council again rebuffed Weaver, who had made the same request at a meeting weeks earlier. Although McHan, who co-ordinates with the police department, made the motion, he could gain only two other votes: those of Charles Sanders and Mayor Tim Kent.

Before the vote, Freeman observed, “I have found my $3000.” Painter and James Campbell joined Freeman in opposing the expenditure. Weaver had asserted that he had $7900 left in his department’s account and only 17 days left before the fiscal year ended.

Freeman again took center stage on at least two other matters. Kent asked Ware about a proposed resolution to abate taxes for the Quality Mills Products (QMP). Ware held that neither QMP nor later owner Michael Dendy had met the requirements to keep the tax abatement.

Freeman, as he had done when the council added Dendy to the original abatement, defended him, alleging that Dendy’s problems have grown from the soured economy. He said that Dendy has a million dollars worth of equipment in the facility and that once the economy turns, the mill will be ready to provide jobs in Snead. He argued that rescinding the abatement would push Dendy into bankruptcy and that the town would likely receive little if any tax payment in that situation.

Ware and utilities supervisor Jeff Whited questioned whether any equipment remains in the building. Whited noted the plant has used no water the last month.

Freeman indicated the council could do as it wished but that he felt the abatement should not be rescinded. As discussion continued, Kent suggested Whited verify whether any equipment remained at the site and report to the council by its next regular session.

Freeman won council approval to transport Whited and two other utilities employees to a workshop dealing with gas lines and their inspection. The councilor indicated his concern that aging pipelines over the country stand a chance of exploding, as one recently did in California.

In other action, the council agreed to donate to the Blount County Education Foundation and to authorize Ware to solicit bids for two nearly-$57,000 oneyear bank certificates of deposit (CDs).

Senior citizen director Jane Childress presented a plaque to VFW representatives George Elrod and Gordon Brown for their financial support of the center. She also acknowledged grants from Rep. Elwyn Thomas for help at the center and elsewhere in town.

As noted above, all members attended the Sept. 13 session. The council regularly meets the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. in the town community center.