Eutaw City Council votes to use $200,000 in ‘earmarked account’ to pay necessary city expenses

At the end of a long and raucous meeting, filled with arguments and motions to table issues, the Eutaw City Council voted 4 to 2 to take $200,000 from an account earmarked for Branch Heights Roads to pay necessary and accumulated bills for the city. Councilmembers: Latasha Johnson, Benny Abrams, Joe Lee Powell and Mayor Steele voted in favor while Councilmembers: Sheila Smith and LaJeffrey Carpenter voted against.
The City of Eutaw utilized $500,000 earlier this year from its gas tax accounts to resurface the roads in Branch Heights and place speed-bumps where needed. The Mayor said these funds were now needed to pay accumulated bills for needed items, like chemicals to treat the city water, repair costs for city equipment, and other expenses where vendors are threatening to cut the city off for non-payment of past bills.
City Attorney, Zane Willingham, said that he could find nothing in the Greene County Constitutional Amendment 743 authorizing bingo that restricts or earmarks the use of funds. The Sheriff’s bingo rules and the City Council’s decision to place funds in ‘earmarked accounts’ was a policy decision that could be changed by the Eutaw City Council that initially placed restrictions on the funds but now needs them for other purposes.
Mayor Steele said the city’s problems with finances are because the city tax base has not expanded over the past thirty years. “The opening of the Love’s Truck and Travel Center in October 2019, will help to employ more people and expand our sales and fuel tax revenues. But we will need more economic expansion to fully cover the costs of city services and operations.”
The City Council also agreed to purchase a new truck (estimated cost -$35,000) and a new tractor (estimated cost $20,000) for the city street department, from the gasoline tax funds.
The Council received a report from Rob Pearson, with Mason and Gardner Accountants, who presented a draft report of budgets for the City General Fund and Water Department. He said that both budgets showed a deficit with expenses exceeding revenues. After many questions from Councilmembers it was agreed to hold a more detailed discussion of the budgets at a work session to be held on the third Tuesday in September.
Mayor Steele reported that the Alabama Rural Water Services had visited and reviewed the city’s water system including the new meters, softwear and billing systems. They found 294 problems and have corrected 200 of them. “They plan to be back soon to correct the remaining accounts and get the system operating properly,” said Steele.
The Council tabled a number of controversial issues that come up regularly at meetings, such as the policy not to accept cash, undercover tags on city vehicles, use of city facilities for meetings and activities of non-city agencies and organizations, drainage repairs on private property, salary increases for staff, disposition of the Assistant Police Chief and others.

City Council grants liquor license to John’s club Eutaw recognizes National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend

Girl Scott

Shown Back Row L to R: Councilpersons LaTasha Johnson, Bennie Abrams, Joe L. Powell, Sheila Smith and LaJeffery Carpenter. Front Row L to R: Girl Scouts Madisyn Harris, India Duncan, Troop Leader Miriam Leftwich, Eutaw Mayor Raymond Steele, Girl Scouts Diamond White and Mackenzie Harris

The Eutaw City Council, at its February 27, 2018 meeting presented a proclamation honoring local Girl Scout Troop 408 for National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend.  The Proclamation stated that the City of Eutaw proclaims the week of February 23-25 as National Girl Scout Cookie Weekend. Members of Girl Scout Troop 408, with their troop leader Miriam Leftwich were present.  Leftwich announced that there were boxes of cookies for sale.  Following the presentation, Girl Scout Diamond White thanked the city for its continued support of Girl Scouts.

In other business, the council approved a liquor license for John’s club on Main Street, with councilpersons Sheila Smith and LaJeffery Carpenter abstaining. The council approved the $4,000 bid for demolition of a dwelling at 409 Tuscaloosa Street.
At its meeting on February 13, 2018, the Eutaw City Council approved a liquor license for Chuck Wagon which will be moving to a new location in West End from its current space on the Prairie Avenue side of the Courthouse Square.
At the request of Greene County Health Services, the council approved the use of the former National Guard Armory as an alternative location in the event of a natural disaster. At the February 13th meeting, the Council approved use of the National Guard Armory for the non-profit ANSC’s Black & White Heritage Ball.
The council approved payment of bills, although the clerk was unable to print the documents for the council due to technical difficulties.
The council approved a request from the local Boy Scout Troop to use the city’s property on Boligee and Washington Streets for an Easter Carnival.
In his reports to the council, Mayor Steele stated that the power pole on Morrow Street will be removed by next week. At the prior meeting, Mayor Steele announced that the new water tank was cleaned, filled and placed on line as part of the City’s enhanced water system. He also stated that the grass in the cemeteries is ready to be cut, but the workers are waiting for a break in the rain.
At the first meeting of the month, the Council approved adding the new City Clerk as a signatory on the bank account to assist with paying bills. The Council authorized payment of February bills and claims on hand at that time.
Councilwoman Johnson noted that there are still vehicles illegally parked on Lock 7 Road.  Mayor Steele said these will be towed and the owners will be fined. The Councilwoman Smith said the caution light on Boligee St. was still not working.
Councilman Carpenter requested that the council and Mayor set a date to update the City’s Handbook.  The body agreed to March 21 at 5:30 pm, to begin the process.
City Attorney, Ken Aycock, presented a draft of the city’s proposed Public Records Request Policy.  He recommended that the council consider charging for staff time and for copying regarding request for public records.