Eutaw City Mayor Raymond Steele and City Clerk Katherine Bir.
In a called meeting held Friday, February 2, 2018 at 2:00 p.m., the Eutaw City Council hired Katherine Bir as City Clerk and transferred Grace Sanford to the City Magistrate’s position. The Magistrate’s position was held by Daedra Thomas, who resigned November 22, 2017. Bir and Sanford will assume their respective positions Monday, Feb. 5.
Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele stated that Ms. Bir stood out among approximately 20 individuals in the applicant pool. She holds a M.A. Degree in accounting and has held previous jobs in that area of expertise.
“She will be able to assist us with our budgeting process as well as with our bookkeeping,” Steele said.
Bir is a former resident of Eutaw and currently lives in Northport. She indicated that she is planning to relocate to Eutaw.
When an inquiry was made as to the public announcement of the City Council’s call meeting, City Attorney Ken Aycock stated that a 24 hour posting is all that was necessary. The council members, mayor and attorney recessed to executive session prior to formerly voting to hire the new personnel.
Council members present included LaTasha Johnson, Bennie Abrams, Joe L. Powell, Sheila Smith and LaJeffery Carpenter.
Sheila Smith presenting a check for police car video systems to Police Chief Derick Coleman and Mayor Raymond Steele.
At its regular meeting on May 9, 2017, the Eutaw City Council opened bids on surplus vehicles and property that had been advertised for sale.
City Attorney Ken Aycock opened and read the bids at the meeting. The City Council approved a motion to sell the property to the highest bidder. All items save one, lot number 8 for a 2000 Ford Crown Victoria, were sold. The City realized approximately $6,000 from this sale, which can used toward the acquisition of new property.
The City Council meeting also included a motion by Council members LaTasha Johnson and LaJeffrey Carpenter to add four items to the agenda, which were discussed in a working session but were not included on the agenda distributed by Mayor Steele.
Most of these items dealt with financial matters.
Mayor Raymond Steele protested the addition of these items to the agenda.” You don’t respect me or my judgment. I have not had time to study these items before they are added ton the agenda,” said Steele. The Council members pointed out that Steele had not attended the working meeting and they wanted these items handled.
The items included, changing the check signers on the City Operating Accounts, making personnel policies and time sheets for employees available for review by Council members, placing funds from the bingo operations in a separate account from other funds for use for capital improvements required in the city, and fixing the roof and other aspects of the repair of the National Guard Armory in stages. These items were approved as a package.
In reviewing the bills and claims for the month of April, Council members asked many questions concerning the presentation of the accounting reports, the lack of a formal budget to measure expenditures against and spending of funds from the bingo account for general expenses instead of capital improvements. The Council agreed to have a working session on finances on May 16 to get a better handle on the city’s finances. Councilman Joe L. Powell moved that the Council pay the bills that were presented but not accept the financial report as presented until it is improved.
The Council approved the Municipal Water Participation and Procedures (MWPP) report for the past year and forwarded it on the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
Mayor Steele reported that the contractors were pouring the footings for the new water tower behind City Hall. “The tower should be complete in 9 to 12 months,“ said Steele.
Councilwoman Sheila H. Smith raised the question of whether all of the inoperable fire hydrants in Eutaw would be replaced by the USDA Rural Development Program Loan and Grant program. Mayor Steele said he was meeting with the project engineers and would bring up that question with them. He also said 1500 new self-reporting water meters would also be installed as part of the project.
Councilwomen Smith also asked about the procedure for using city land at the old swimming pool site on Highway 11 for vendors interested in participating in the Antique Alley program and sale. The Mayor said the vendors should make application with the City Clerk similar to use of the park and National Guard Armory.
LaJeffrey Carpenter raised issues on ditches and streets in his district that needed clearing as well as work needed at the entrance to the M&M Subdivision to make it more visible in relation to traffic on Highway 43.
At the end of the meeting Sheila Smith presented City Police Chief Derick Coleman a check for $1,871.75 from the Tommy Summerville Police Foundation for purchase of car video systems for each Eutaw police vehicle. These funds were generated for the Foundation from bingo operations at the new Palace facility.
L to R: Mayor Raymond Steele and Mayor Pro Tem Sheila H. Smith.
The Eutaw City Council met on November 22, 2016 for its first full meeting since the election to consider business. All members were present.
LaTasha Johnson moved to amend the agenda to consider election of a Mayor Pro Tem of the Council to serve in the absence of the Mayor. This decision was left over from the Council organizational meeting on November 7, 2016. Johnson then proposed rotating Pro Tem for a year’s term, starting with Sheila H. Smith, representing District 4 and then moving to the other districts in numerical order. This motion was approved and Sheila H. Smith was designated as Mayor Pro Tem.
City Attorney Ken Aycock brought up approval of a contract with Co-Bank, a Denver based agricultural cooperative bank, to provide interim construction financing for the $3.1 million loan and grant water project for the City approved by USDA Rural Development. Co-Bank is providing the financing during construction and USDA RD will pay off the construction loan once the project is completed according to the proposed and designed specifications.
Co-Bank’s interest is based on a commercial banking index rate that changes as interest rates rise but is currently close to 1%, which is a very reasonable rate.
The City Council moved to unanimously approve the construction financing agreement with Co-Bank, which was the last remaining paperwork hurdle before the low bidders can start the project.
Mayor Steele introduced a resolution modifying the pay rates of several positions including City Clerk, Water Clerk, Assistant Police Chief and others. The salary adjustments were approved but not shared with the public. Councilwoman Sheila H. Smith urged that the City Council consider all the police officers for a raise in the future. The Democrat has submitted a written request for the City’s salary schedule for all employees.
The Council approved the purchase of two used vehicles from ALDOT for use by the City’s Public Works Department. The Council paid outstanding bills and claims for September and October 2016.
The Council approved the travel of the City Clerk to a Municipal Training Conference in Florence, Alabama from November 30 to December 2, 2016. The Council also approved the selection of Walter Beck as Assistant Police Chief.
Mayor Steele brought up the issue of filling seats on the Eutaw Housing Authority Board. In the public comment period later in the meeting, James Powell said it was important to fill these positions so that the Eutaw and Greene County Housing Authorities could proceed with discussion of a merger, which HUD is actively pushing and supporting. “The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wants one unified housing board to work through to improve public housing, including Branch Heights, in the city and the county,” said Powell.
Mayor Steele also brought up the need for a resolution for the City of Eutaw to accept the roads and streets in Branch Heights as a first step to finding the resources to solve the problems in Branch Heights. In response to questions, Steele said, “we need an official resolution to clear up any confusion on who owns these streets; and then we can work to find the resources to fix them. The Council asked Attorney Aycock to prepare a resolution for the next meeting.
The Mayor reported that the City water bills were 5 to 6 months behind and that citizens would soon get a water bill for three months and then in January 2017 a water bill catching up on all past due usage. “We will give residents and businesses grace time to pay these water bills, if time and payment plans are needed. We must get the water billing up to date. We are working diligently to make repairs and fix leaks in the system while waiting for the major new steps, like the digital self-reporting meters, that come with the USDA water project.”
Mr. Babb, City Engineer reported on building permits and progress on the resurfacing of Prairie Avenue from the Courthouse Square to Highway 43.