MOUNT IDA – The Mount Ida City Council chose to appoint some familiar faces to fill two empty alderperson positions as Mayor Vann Morgan moderated his first city council meeting.
The meeting opened with the approval of the minutes from the previous meeting, followed by an executive session to fill two vacant seats on the council. There were two individuals interested in each position but the council chose to appoint Kim Miller to fill the Alderperson Position Six spot and Joan Whisenhunt to fill the Alderperson Position Three spot. Both alderwomen held those positions through December 31 of last year. Miller was unable to register for the election last Summer due to a family emergency and Whisenhunt had ran for Mayor and was unable to run for her council position.
The vote to fill both positions was taken after the councilmembers had returned from executive session.
During the discussion of the monthly financial statement Councilman Bill Ray asked where the Mount Ida Fire Department gets their funding. Fire Chief Barry Craw answered. He stated that they are funded in three ways: Act 833 funds, donations, and grants.
He added that since 2015 Mount Ida, partnered with South Fork VFD, has worked to lower the fire rating in the South Fork District from a Nine to a Four. This has cut insurance rates in the area in half. Mount Ida has improved their fire rating from a Seven to a Four in the past eight years.
The financial report passed unanimously.
The floor was opened for discussion.
Alderman Joe Partain asked what needed to be done to get street lights fixed. He was told they need to pole number which will be turned over to Entergy.
Alderman Bill Ray brought up the city’s contract with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. It was said that the city pays the sheriff’s office around $30,000 a year to patrol within the city limits. Ray asked the Mayor to sit down with Sheriff Neal Thomas and look over the contract so that everyone is aware of what is expected.
Alderman Partain stated that he had noticed an increase in patrols since the first of the year but agreed that more needs to be done.
Alderman David Harmon stated that he has found used syringes and condoms lying around the children’s playground equipment when he takes his children to the park in the morning. He stated that the park needs to be patrolled as well.
Alderwoman Joan Whisenhunt stated that she would like to see some technological improvements in the city offices. She specifically mentioned a smart board that could be used for group training or meetings. She offered to help with setup and training on the new equipment if purchased.
She also spoke in favor of improvements at the city park. She mentioned a need for three distinct areas of activity at the park for different age groups. She stated that she would like to see the tennis court in use again and mentioned pickleball as a possible use for the court.
A park committee was formed with Joan Whisenhunt, David Harmon and Mayor Vann Morgan named to the committee.
Mayor Vann Morgan mentioned a grant that would expand the walking track at the park. He shared that he was looking into grants that would help widen the track to make it handicap accessible.
Alderwoman Debbie Baldwin asked about some areas around the civic center that needs repair. Mayor Morgan stated that he would look into it.
Mayor Morgan addressed the council, stating that he was talk to the council about any purchase over $5,000 before making it if possible. He then shared a few projects that will exceed that threshold.
He talked about a culvert that needs replaced on Highway 270 just east of Bob’s Food City. He said they are taking bids on the project.
He also mentioned a sewer lift station that needs renovation. One bid for approximately $50,000 has been submitted and they are awaiting another bid.
The Mayor also talked about a 100 percent grant available to replace leaded water lines. The deadline on the grant is January 31. City employee Caleb Chesshir was on hand to elaborate on the project. He explained that lead is used to seal old cast irons fixtures in the water system. Currently the city is using a mixture of new and old water mains with many running parallel to one another. Chesshir stated that the grant would allow them to remove the old lines from service. He also shared that this would help clear up the tap water.
Mayor Morgan stated that he had been told the new rakes at the sewer treatment facility would be installed next week.
He shared that he plans to ask B&L Paving for bids on paving several city streets.
Discussion was also raised about a need to increase the salary for employees with CDL licenses.
Alderman Harmon brought up the Act 605 Water Rate Study. During the discussion Mayor Morgan mentioned letters that were mailed to customers with late water bills. He stated that the city is going to start enforcing shut off notices.
The next city council meeting will be held a day later next month on Tuesday, February 21, due to the original meeting date falling on a state and federal holiday.