Eutaw City Council approves raises for police and water department

Mayor Latasha Johnson, Council members and staff present check for $30,000 to support E-911 dispatch and other emergency services. Funds came from the City’s American Rescue Act funding.

At Tuesday night’s regular Eutaw City Council meeting, the members went through an extensive agenda mostly distributing funds and buying necessary items with General Funds and special funds provided to the city under the American Rescue Plan passed by Democrats in Congress and signed by President Biden. Fiscal Advisor, Ralph Liverman reported that the City had raised $577,000 in General Fund revenues in nine months since the October 1st fiscal year had begun, compared with $525,000 in revenues forecast in the budget. “This means the city will earn additional revenues beyond what we budgeted and the Council can approve additional needed expenditures,” said Liverman. Liverman also reported that $800,914 in revenues from the City’s Water Department for nine months, ending June 30, 2021 was substantially greater than the budgeted amount and more than last year’s full collections. Liverman said Corey Martin, Water Department Supervisor had corrected problems with meters and leaks, raised collections, and secured a license as a sewer operator as well as having a water operator’s license, required to operate the city’s systems. At the Mayor’s suggestion, Liverman recommended that the Council approve a raise of $4.00 an hour for Corey Martin. The Council approved the raised based on the recommendation. It was noted at the end of September 2021, the city would no longer have to pay another contracted company $1,900 for supervising the sewer system, since Martin’s new sewage license would qualify him to play this role. The Mayor asked that the Council approve a $1.00 an hour raise for all police officers which would raise the minimum pay for certified officers to $15.00 an hour. Chief Tommy Johnson commented, “This rate of pay is still low in comparison with other cities, like Moundville and Linden who are paying $17 an hour. Some cities like Demopolis are offering a $5,000 signing bonus. Councilwoman Jacqueline Stewart said she supported a pay raise but it should be based on an evaluation of the individual officer’s work record. “Some officers may deserve more than a $1.00 an hour raise and some less,” she said. Mayor Johnson said let’s give this raise, because it is in the budget already and look again in six months to get an evaluation of all police officers for additional adjustments in pay. The Council and mayor unanimously approved this pay raise for the police. The Eutaw Council also approved spending $97,208 for a well improvement telemetry program to put all wells on a digitally monitored system instead of using a telephonic warning system, which does not provide the information on a as detailed or timely basis. They approved $3,483 a year for the On-Solve Community Notification System, to inform residents of emergencies and problems with the city utilities. They also approved $21,175 for new software for bookkeeping, cemetery maintenance and business licenses; $8,896 for purchase of body cameras for the police; and $1, 980 for replacement of the light fixtures in the City Council meeting chamber. Most of these expenditures will be paid by the American Rescue Plan funds or from the Capital Improvement budget. In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:

•Approved a resolution to set up a Water Department Revenue Account and ending the Water Deposit Account, since there are no records of water deposits paid. If a resident can produce a receipt for a water deposit they will be reimbursed. New water customers will be required to pay a one-time $100 water connection and account fee. •Adopted a written Water Leak and Bill Dispute Policy.

•Approved several members of the staff to attend an Alabama Rural Water Training in Tuscaloosa on July 15, 2021

•Approved a resolution to set up a bank account for currency seized by police in raids and arrests.

•Approved the creation of a police sub-station at the Robert H. Young Community Center (old Carver School). •Approved paying bills. •Approved a contribution of $30,000 to support E-911.

Eutaw City Council appoints board and committee members, reviews water system issues, E-911 and pays bills

Shown L to R: Eutaw Police Officer Tyler Johnson, Asst, Chief Kendrick Howell, Chief Tommy Johnson, Mayor Pro Tem LaJeffery Carpenter, Officers Robert Geter and William Smith displaying their new uniform. Chief Johnson stated he has an open door policy. Look professional and act professional. We are here to help our citizens.

At its regular meeting on January 26,2021, the Eutaw City Council
dealt with several outstanding issues including naming people to city committees and boards, reviewing continuing problems with the water system, support for E-911, reviewing an agreement for joint work with the County Commission and Industrial Board, setting lease rates for space at the Carver School Community Center and paying bills.
The Mayor and City Council appointed members of the following boards and committees:
• Eutaw Zoning Board: John Zippert, Broderick Fulghum, Cynthia Cooper, Corey Cockrell, and Shirley Eubanks
• Eutaw Housing Authority Board: James Powell, Jonathan Lewis, Jacqueline Allen, and Isaac N. Atkins
• Eutaw Medical Clinic Board: Judy Jarvis, John Zippert and Joyce Cotton
• Eutaw Historical Commission: Evelyn Davis, Gilda Jowers, Diane Liverman, Carol P. Zippert, Sharon Trammell, Johnnie Mae Knott, Sandra Walker, Judy Jarvis
• Eutaw Cemetery Board: Nicolas Wilson, Joseph Fritz, Suzette Powell, Sharon Trammell, and Connie Tyree
The Council took up the issue of setting a rental payment for use of rooms at the Carver School Community Center. The CRFD, a non-profit agency has had a space for a year and Liberty Tax, a business. is requesting a space. Councilwoman Tracey Hunter raised the concern that the monthly charge includes utilities. Mayor Johnson said it was a community center not a business, so the city was not likely to recover all costs for the facility, but needed to charge a fair rate for non-profits and others. Hunter then moved to table the issue until more research and information was available.
The Engineers of the South (EOS), the consulting firm that is currently contracted to monitor the operations and quality of the Eutaw Water System was present and stated their interest in supporting efforts to improve the system. The spokesperson for EOS said that they would provide a proposal to increase time on monitoring the system, help in auditing and correcting faulty meters and replacing meters that could not be repaired. EOS is also answering an ADEM complaint about the water system, which was sent to the past Mayor but never answered.
The City also has a proposal from Kathie Horne of Water Management Associates for improving and repairing problems with the water system. Her agreement is for three years and charges $6 per meter, per month. Mayor Johnson said the city has 1,400 water meters, which means that Horne’s contract is for $8,400 a month or more. Johnson said she wasn’t sure if the city could afford this contract and welcomed other proposals, like one from EOS. The Mayor said this would be discussed in more detail at a Council Work Session on Tuesday, February 2nd.
The next agenda item was a pledge by the City since 2004, to provide $30,000 a year for the operation of the E-911 emergency assistance and dispatching services, which has never been paid. Johnny Isaac, Chair of the E-911 Board was present and said, “In 2004, I was the Sheriff and Reginald Spencer was Eutaw Chief of Police, we agreed to transfer dispatching services to E-911. This is saving the city between $200,000 and $300,000 a year. We hope you can support us with $30,000 that was pledged but never paid. The monies we get from the phone bill tax of $1.86 per customer is not sufficient to operate E-911”
Mayor Johnson said the City should pay $30,000 a year to support E-911, from bingo funds. The Council agreed and supported this expense.
The Council reviewed an agreement between the City, County Commission and Industrial Development Authority for development of the Interstate 59/20 Exit 40, especially the location of a motel and other projects to improve the county. The Council tabled this issue for further discussion at the upcoming work session.
The Council received a listing of outstanding bills for the months of November, December and January, which they approved for payment.