Eutaw City Council holds routine meeting

Gloria Mobley shows soiled sheet she washed in City of Eutaw water, after a water line repair, without notice to flush out lines.

On Tuesday, March 25, 2023, the Eutaw City Council held its regular second meeting of the month. The Council handled routine business approving contracts related to street repairs, storm debris collection, and repairs to the City Park, off the Lock 7 Road.
The Mayor, four city council persons, the clerk, assistant clerk, and other city employees were present. Council member LaJeffrey Carpenter of District 2 was absent.
At the beginning of the meeting the Mayor, Council, and Legal Counsel held a forty-four-minute Executive Session (from 5:07 to 5:51 PM) to discuss the good name and character of city employees and legal matters.
When the Council returned to the public session, they received financial reports on the first five months of the fiscal year, from October 1, 2022, to February 28, 2023, a report on a franchise payment for 2023 by Alabama Power Company and a utility revenue collections report, prepared by Ralph Liverman, financial adviser.

The Council approved a payment of $10,100 to Jasper Means Construction Company for his work on Roberts Street. The Council also approved a contract with J&L Environmental and Tree Services for additional storm debris clean-up.

The Council also approved a contract with EOS Utility Systems from Mississippi to operate and monitor the city’s wastewater system. The company will work with city employees on maintaining the lagoon and wastewater pumping stations daily, while EOS will make weekly monitoring visits and sign off on reports to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).
The weekend of July 21-23, 2023, was approved as a “Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday”, for purchase of school clothes and supplies, exempt from sales taxes.

In other business:

• The Council approved letting of bids for repair of the City Park, at Lock 7 Road, from storm damage.

• Approved travel for city employees for training and per diem expenses for the Chief of Police to attend a Jefferson County Police and Sheriff’s Captain Development Program in Birmingham on March 29-31, 2023.
• Approved Mayor Johnson’s suggestion of three names to the State of Alabama for appointment to the County Board of Equalization. The three names submitted were James D. Powell, Tommy Armour, and Mary R. McInnis.

• Approved payment of bills and claims.

In the public comments section of the meeting, Gloria Mobley of West End, reported that she had washed her clothes the prior week, after the city restored water service, after repairing a leak. She said she did not realize there was a brown sediment in the water that ruined some of her clothes, towels, and sheets. Mobley asked for assistance from the City to purchase replacements for the items soiled in the wash, with city water.

The Mayor and Corey Martin, Water Operator, stated that there was nothing that the city could do for Ms. Mobley. Corey Martin insisted that he had sent out a “code-red” notice in that area of the city advising residents of the water problem. Mobley said that she never received the code-red call.

At the end of the meeting, Mobley showed a bag of clothes that she had washed three times, which were still soiled and looking beige not white.
Mobley was not satisfied with the response that she should have heeded the code-red and flushed out her lines before washing her clothes.

A knowledgeable observer of city business suggested that the City Council should have granted Mobley two- or three-months water service credit in exchange for the damage to her clothes and personal items

Eutaw City Council reviews finances;
makes board appointments

The Eutaw City Council met on Monday, November 7, 2022 for its regular first meeting of the month. The meeting was held on Monday because the second Tuesday was an election day.

The Council held an announced public hearing  at the start of the meeting to approve a resolution to vacate a city owned easement for an alley on the old Family Dollar property on Greensboro Avenue. City Attorney, Zane Willingham, explained that there is a possibility that the property will be used for a Jack’s Restaurant franchise and that the alley needed to be officially removed, so as not to be a barrier to attracting the business to the city.

Ralph Liverman, Financial Adviser, reported that the city’s financial records for the past fiscal year, ending September 30, 2022 had been completed and were ready to be transmitted to the auditors. He also reported that for the month of October 2022, the records showed that sales taxes and other revenues, exceed the 8.25% monthly projection and that most expenses were in line with the proposed budget.

Financial reports on the month of October for the General Fund, USDA Loan Payment and Reserve Accounts and the Utility Revenue Collections and transfers, were presented to the Council for their information. The annual payment to USDA on the current water system loan is due at the end of the calendar year. The reports show funds available for the payment and the accumulation of proper reserves for major repairs to the system.

The Council appointed Carrie Logan on the Eutaw Historic Preservation Board, to replace Diana Liverman, who resigned. The Council appointed Jim Logan to replace Rev. James Carter, who passed away, on the Eutaw Airport Board. The Council tabled the replacement of Rodney Wesley to the Greene County EMS Board, representing the city. He has resigned the position.

The Council heard a report from Corey Martin, City Water and Sewer Operator. Martin said the city was developing a plan to deal with a large pile of debris at the City Landfill. The city can no long burn materials it collects and must develop a plan for disposal of the materials in other landfills.

Martin reported that the city had replaced valves on tanks and made numerous repairs to leaks in the water lines which reduced water loss on a monthly basis from 70% in July to 34.3% in October. The city water and sewer lines have been mapped which will help in making repairs and determining the classification and need for additional fire hydrants.

The Council approved payment of all bills and claims and agreed to pay a scheduled employee bonus from American Rescue Plan Act funds with the next payroll on December 2, 2022, instead of waiting until the end of the year.

Eutaw City Council receives reports on finances, sales tax collection and Water Department

At its regular meeting on November 23, 2021, the Eutaw City Council received reports in its budget, bank accounts, sales tax collections and the Water Department.

Two Council members were absent – LaJeffrey Carpenter and Tracy Hunter – but a quorum was present which allowed the meeting to proceed.

Based on recommendations from their Financial Adviser, Ralph Liverman, the Council reviewed and approved several bank resolutions to close several certificates of deposit and place checking accounts into money market accounts, which will earn interest on surplus funds on deposit in these bank accounts.

Liverman also presented a detailed report on the opening balances in all city banking and operational accounts as of the start of the fiscal year on October 1, 2021.

The most interesting report that Liverman furnished was a record of sales tax and motor fuel revenues received by the City of Eutaw over the past three fiscal years, which shows the impact of the Love’s Travel Center in significantly increasing the tax revenues paid to the City of Eutaw.

A chart summarizing this information is included in this news report. The chart shows revenues for the three fiscal years, FY2018-2019, which was the year before Love’s opened for business, FY 2019-2020, which includes the first eleven months of Love’s operation and FY 2020-2021, which includes a full year of the truck stop and travel center operations.

The chart shows an increase of sales taxes from $530,962 before Love’s, to $772,756 for last year, which was a full year of operation for the travel center. This is an increase of $ 241,794 or 31%

The fuel tax increase, which is based on 3 cents per gallon, increased from $54,798 to $472,377, which is an astounding increase of
$ 417,574 or 762%.

Overall sales tax and motor fuel revenues increased from $692,730 to $1,515,045, which was an increase of $822,315 or 119%. On a monthly basis this represents $126,253 in tax revenues added to the city budget.

Note that the total sales tax rate in Greene County is 10% of which 3% goes to the municipality, in this case the City of Eutaw; 3% to the County Commission, and 4% to the State of Alabama. So, the county government and State of Alabama are receiving similar increases in revenues, to those received by the City of Eutaw.

It should also be noted that much of the increase in tax revenues which is attributed to the Love’s Travel Center were from people traveling through Greene County on Interstate 20/59, not from residents of the city or the county.

The Eutaw Water Department reported continuing progress in collections and reducing water losses. The City collected over $75,000 in water revenues for November 2021, which was about double what had been collected in previous years. There are 1,461 customers, with 12 new customers of which 9 were customers found, who previously had not been billed. There are still 534 accounts with $63,469 past due and receivable, some of which are under payment agreements.

In other actions, the Eutaw City Council:

• Did not approve, November 24, the day before Thanksgiving for a full day paid vacation for employees. They left this benefit at a half day.

• Approved changes in the right-of-way for utilities and access to Raintree Apartments LLC and a similar adjustment for Rollingwoods Apartments.

• Heard reports from the City Engineer and Chief of Police.

• Agreed to pay bills for November 2021.