The mayor asked the council to approve an estimated $250,000 of credit. The money will be used to pay overtime wages for city employees and for equipment used to repair flood damage. The mayor said that the credit line will allow the city to streamline the process of covering flood costs.
“To simplify the thing I’d like to ask for approval to get a line of credit so we can go ahead and put everything into one account. And then once we get ready to settle our flood account, then we can go back and take an amendment,” Mayor Kelley explained.
Councilor Gary Mills asked about the reimbursement of the funds from state and federal governments. The mayor indicated that either way, the expenses were basically unavoidable.
“We’re counting on it, but either way we’ve got a major expense...,” the mayor stated, “... the people had to be served out there in the last couple weeks.”
A list is being compiled by the Street Department to submit to FEMA to take care of damaged roads. Gravel, black top, and culverts will be among the department’s requests.
The council voted to advertise bids for new ambulances and may opt to lease two rather than purchase one and pay upfront. The mayor reported that the city was down to three ambulances and noted that one looked “a little suspect.” Councilor Ronnie Carter noted that all units had very high mileage.
If leasing two ambulances fits into the city’s budget, it will likely be the option the council chooses. At the request of Councilor Gary Mills, Police Chief Jeff Sharpe explained that lease agreements for government agencies were different than other types of lease agreements and were usually “very favorable.”
“Most government leases are really lease-purchases and you always have a one dollar buy back option at the end,” he said.
The mayor added that interest was also very minimal. The purchase of one ambulance was already designated in the budget for the year. Reimbursement funds for a wrecked ambulance in the amount of approximately $15,700 may also be used to lease-purchase the two units.
Councilor Lucas Carter asked Fire Department Chief Tim Wilder about the possibility of getting a four-wheel drive ambulance, but Wilder said that most did not meet federal weight specifications. Box units are favored by Wilder, Councilor Ronnie Carter and the mayor over van units. A box unit offers more space and can be reused on a new chassis, meaning that the city will spend less when replacements are needed in the future.
Three new police officers will be joining the city force sometime near the beginning of next year. Chief Sharpe reported that three are in training currently and that they will undergo eight to 10 weeks of field training with the department after graduation in October.
Councilor Philip Ball asked that the city remember the need for blood donations and asked that a culvert be cleaned on 31st and Winchester Avenue.
The mayor and members of the council offered praise and appreciation to city workers, citizens, vendors and forestry camp inmates for the various flood relief efforts and assistance in the city’s Independence Day celebration that were received. Councilor Ronnie Carter said that in the 16 years the city has held a July fourth celebration, this year’s turnout seemed to surpass all others. He said that 1,300 hot dogs were served at the event.
The council also voted to approve: the minutes of the last regular meeting, a tax refund for a duplicate payment, and the mayor’s reappointment of Ronnie Reece to the Board of Zoning and Adjustment. A motion to enter the list of city bills paid was tabled until the next meeting. The list had not been prepared as city employees were busy with flood-related work.
Lorie Settles is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. She may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.