Eutaw City Council considers buying a fire truck and wrestles with water system problems in Boligee

Mayor and Eutaw City Council members hold up Audit Report for September 30, 2022, which was approved in a Special Called Meeting on August 3, 2200
Proposed firetruck the City of Eutaw plans to inspect

    On August 9, 2022, the Eutaw City Council held a work session with the Mayor and members of the City Council of Boligee over continuing problems of water leakage, pressure and quality in the Town and a regular meeting where they considered the purchase of a fire engine.

    The work session considered the problems of the City of Eutaw Water System providing water to two hundred customers in the Town of Boligee. Because of leakages in the main water line and problems in the Town, the system pressures cannot be maximized. In other cases breakdowns in key transmission lines have led to “brown looking water” and other quality problems for Boligee users.

    Eutaw Mayor Latasha Johnson said, “We do not want to cut off water for the Town of Boligee. We are spending most of our water repair funds on the old lines to and in Boligee. We want to give you the water transmission system back and just sell you water, but we know you cannot afford to run your system by yourself. It is too small to be financially viable.”

    The Mayor went on to explain that Eutaw applied to ADEM and USDA for assistance. “We were awarded a $3.5 million dollar loan and grant combination, where half was a grant and half a loan, but we cannot afford to take on additional debt, especially since most of the money would be spent in Boligee. We cannot raise the water rates for our customers to help Boligee. We need a 100% grant to help all the people on our system.”

    At the actual Eutaw City Council meeting, the council voted to turn down the $3.5 million loan and grant offer from ADEM because the matching requirement of a $1.75 million loan was more than the City could afford at this time. “We hope to reapply for these funds in the future, but we feel ADEM, USDA and other agencies need to recognize the unique situation of our water system serving two rural communities, with a majority of low-income residents that cannot afford higher water bills for debt servicing,” said Mayor Johnson.

    Also on the regular Eutaw City Council agenda was an informational item with two invoices for $11,431 for repairs to the system in recent months, all expended in Boligee. “We hope to recover this money from Boligee, but we know this is a strain on them, which is why we need more grant funds to repair and update our joint system,’ said Jonson.

    In another information item on the agenda was the issue of charging the Greene County Water System for water it gets from Eutaw and the need to renegotiate an outdated contract to supply water to the catfish plant.

    Another major item on the Eutaw City Council agenda was consideration of a request from the Fire Department to purchase used 2006 Pierce Quint 75 fire truck with a forty-foot ladder that could reach the second and third story of homes and apartments in Eutaw.

    Fire Chief Bennie Abrams and Assistant Chief Brandon Broach explained that the City had one certified fire truck with a 24-foot ladder and one old truck that was a “hose wagon”. They said they were looking into buying a used truck, the 2006 Pierce Quint with a forty-foot ladder, which has a list price of $275,000.

    They explained that the Eutaw Fire Department had $150,000 donation from a citizen toward purchase of the truck but needed a commitment from the City Council for the additional $125,000, so they could travel to New Jersey to inspect the truck and negotiate the best price. “We do not need to go to look at the truck, if we cannot actually buy it, if we feel it would meet our needs,” said Broach.

    City Financial Advisor, Ralph Liverman said the Eutaw Fire Department has two accounts, one with $207,770, including the $150,000 donation and one with $27,000 for operations. Liverman also said he was planning to place $50,000 for purchase of a new fire truck in the Capital Improvements Account for the coming FY2022-23 budget. Liverman said he felt the city had the funds to purchase the truck if it passed inspection.

    After questions from the council members on other equipment needs of the Fire Department and other needs to be funded by the Capital Improvements budget, the Council voted to approve travel for the two fire officials to inspect the truck and report back about the plan to purchase it.

    In a special called meeting on August 3, 2022, the Eutaw City Council voted to accept the Audit Report for September 30, 2021, prepared by Harbin and Stough, CPA firm in Tuscaloosa. The 53-page detailed audit will be helpful to the city in securing grant funding and laying the basis for future audit reports.

    In other business, the Eutaw City Council:
• Approved travel for Mayor, council members and staff to travel to
various training and annual conferences.
• Approved an adjustment in the annual Municipal Business License fee from $12 to $14 per business.
• Approved the Policy and Procedures manual for city fees.
• Approved payment of Bills and Claims for July 2022

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