Eutaw City Council postpones decision on new fire truck

Police Chief Derrick Coleman with
new officer William Walker

The Eutaw City Council postponed action at the Tuesday May 28 regular meeting on applying for CDBG funding to purchase a new fire truck for the city.
The acquisition of a new fire truck has been the subject of the past two meetings of the City Council. Fire Chief Benny Abrams, who also represents District 5 on the City Council, said that the city had only one fully functional fire engine and was in need of another.
At the May 14 City Council meeting, the Mayor proposed applying to ADECA for $350,000 of competitive Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to purchase a new fire truck. At the work session on May 21, Cory Johnson, with West Alabama Planning and Development Commission (WAPDC) explained that ADECA had several funds and that the most appropriate one was the ADECA Enhancement Fund that provides funding for up to $250,000 specifically for fire trucks.The City would have to provide matching funds for the remaining cost of the fire truck, above $250,000, and some administrative fees ($20,000) for WAPDC. Some of the Council members voiced their continuing concern with approving projects that require matching funds, without a city financial report and budget, which would help them to determine if they could afford major capital expenses.
The Eutaw City Council postponed action on approving the grant request for the fire truck at the request of Benny Abrams. No explanations of the reasons for the postponement were given in the meeting. After the meeting, Mayor Steele said, “Chief Abrams was concerned about the significant reduction in the available grant funds and the need to explore other funding sources as well.”
The Council approved spending $4,250 for a digital SCADA Control and Acquisition System for the Well No. 3 and the landfill water tanks. This system will allow the tanks to communicate and report problems with the water system to the operators to detect leaks in the system and save money in the operation of the system. Stone and Sons Electrical Contractors will be doing the installation work. Eventually the system will need to be expanded to all water tanks in the city system.
The Council approved a salary of $500 a month for Attorney Joshua Swords to serve as City Judge.
The City Council discussed seeking bids to repair roads in King Village. Mayor Steele said he did not agree with a major repaving of the roads in King Village since they were not as damaged as the roads in Branch Heights. The Mayor suggested patching the roads in King Village at this time. This led to a larger discussion of the funds used to pave roads in Branch Heights and how this related to the Sheriff setting aside bingo funds for paving Branch Heights roads. The Council agreed to suspend paving of King Village until a meeting could be scheduled with the Sheriff to discuss the earmarked bingo funds.
There was a discussion of authorized signatures on Certificates of Deposit and a Safety Deposit Box for the city. The Council has already moved to remove the Mayor as a signatory on most city accounts. Mayor Steele said this action was “unprecedented and hampered his ability to do the day-to-day business of the city. The Council said they had to take action to prevent the Mayor from making decisions that involved spending money without the Council’s approval and support. There was a tie vote and no action was taken.
On another controversial issue which separates the Mayor and the council, on a 4 to 1 vote, the council approved publication of an ordinance that deals with declaring the shed at the National Guard Armory surplus and vacant so it can be rented to other interested parties. The Mayor says the shed is in use for storing city materials, including Christmas lights and other supplies.
The Council approved travel for the Chief of Police and Assistant Chief to attend the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police Summer Conference in Orange Beach.
Police Chief Derrick Coleman introduced new police officer, William Walker of Northport, who will be attending the State Police Academy in August and joining the Eutaw city police force.

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