Eutaw City Council continues to improve water system management; extends mask requirements for another 30 days

The Eutaw City Council met for its regular meeting on May 25, 2021. Mayor Latasha Johnson, all Council members and the City Clerk and Assistant Clerk were present. After approval of the past minutes, the Council approved extending its mask mandate for 30 more days until the Council last meeting, on the fourth Tuesday in June. This mask mandate is an additional protection for people who have not been vaccinated yet for the coronavirus. The CDC has recommended that people who have been vaccinated do not need to wear a mask in outdoor settings and only need to wear a mask indoors when there are large crowds, like at a sports stadium. Persons who have not been vaccinated are urge to continue wearing masks in all settings until they are vaccinated. The Council approved a spending limit for the mayor to sign checks up to $5,000 between meetings for emergency purposes. The Council also authorized a credit card for her to use to make necessary purchases. The $5.000 emergency spending limit applies to both checks and credit card purchases, added together for use to handle emergency needs between meetings. The Council heard a report from Corey Martin, Certified Water Operator that he was continuing to make improvements in the city water system. 90 accounts of persons owing more than $500 were disconnected for non- payment. Martin says about half of these persons started paying and had water services restored. In April there were 661 accounts owing $223,602 and by the May 25 meeting there were only 233 accounts owing $97,088. Over one hundred accounts were closed due to vacancies (people moving away), final bills and inactive accounts. In the six-month period from October 1 through May 25, the City Water Department took in $772,853 from current and past due water customers. This compares with total revenue from water of $585,592 for the entire past fiscal year. Mayor Johnson announced that Corey Martin had passed the state examination to be a certified sewer operator to add to his water credentials.The Council heard a report from Ralph Liverman, financial consultant that would rename prior bank accounts for new purposes and open new accounts as needed for city business. He recommended that all payments for water, sewer and garbage be deposited in a Utility Collection Account. Then the water funds be placed in a Water Account, sewer funds in a sewer account and garbage funds in the General Funds Account. Liverman also suggested a new Water Tank Maintenance account for accumulating funds for water tank repairs and repainting since the City discontinued its contract with the Suez Construction Company for tank maintenance. Councilwomen Valerie Watkins moved to table these banking account changes until a working session at which the requested changes could be thoroughly explained so all the council members would understand the changes. This motion to table was approved. In other business, the Eutaw City Council:

• Approved window tinting, stripping, radios and radar equipment for new police cars purchased by the city for the Police Department.

• Approved placing the names of the Mayor and Police Chief on record for a Safety Deposit Box for the City in Merchants and Farmers Bank, to hold certain valuable items for the city in the course of official business.

• Approved transfer of funds from the Eutaw Airport Grant Account to the Eutaw Airport Authority, so they can be used in the enhancement and re-opening of the airport for commercial use.

• Approved use of the Robert H. Young Civic Center (old Carver School) for a Walgreen’s and 100 Black Women of Tuscaloosa sponsored COVID-19 vaccination drive on June 7 and 17, 2021. • Approved the use of Merchants and Farmers Bank for check drafting. •

Approved participation in a summer training conference for the Chief of Police. The Council had a discussion about payment of bills and then approved payment of all bills recommended for payment by the Mayor and City Clerks. The mayor said that she had scheduled a meeting with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to discuss and negotiate the funds owed for back taxes, interest and penalties to satisfy a lien placed against the City by IRS. “ I am determined to pay off this IRS lien and I will use the Special Branch Heights Road Fund monies, generated from bingo, since we have repaired the roads in Branch Heights with other funds and we need to pay off this lien,” said Mayor Johnson.

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