BY DAVID FISHER
DRESDEN— (May 4) — Following a public hearing, held minutes before Monday night’s regular monthly meeting of the Dresden Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the board approved the second and final reading of an ordinance adopting the City of Dresden’s annual operating and capital budget, as well as the tax rate for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020 and ending June 30, 2021.
Members of the Dresden Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Mayor Jeff Washburn and City Recorder Jennifer Branscum were the only city officials physically present at Monday night’s regular monthly meeting at Dresden City Hall. Public access to the meeting was made possible via the internet by utilizing Facebook Live. A conference call line was available for any alderman not comfortable attending in person with the proper distancing enforced, as well as for department heads.
The virtual meeting was conducted in order to comply with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s directive to use electronic means when holding board meetings, to minimize the risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus. This allowed the public to view the proceedings without being in the boardroom.
Mayor Washburn noted the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget is a balanced budget. He stated, in addition to the budget containing no property tax increase, the monthly garbage service fee, as well as the water and sewer rates, will remain unchanged.
The 2020-21 FY budget levies a property tax of $1.4837 per $100 of assessed value on all real and personal property, which is unchanged from the current fiscal year.
The budget also includes a raise for City employees, based on merit.
The budget estimates anticipated revenues from all sources and expenditures to be as follows:
General Fund – Total proposed available funds from all revenue sources = $2,335,686; and total appropriations = $2,334,240.
Solid Waste Fund – Revenue = $388,375; and expenses = $302,000.
Water & Sewer Fund – Revenue = $991,700 and expenses $938,688.
Drug Fund – Revenue = $10,800; total appropriations = $10,800.
At the end of the current fiscal year, fund balances are estimated as follows:
General Fund = $716,288
Solid Waste Fund = $944,770
Drug Fund = $10,800
Water & Sewer Fund = $5,893,126
During the coming fiscal year, the City of Dresden has planned capital projects for the improvement of infrastructure and purchase of needed equipment, which is to be financed by appropriations as follows:
Landscaping = $5,000
Computer Upgrades = $5,000
Patrol Car = $27,000
Patrol Car Equipment = $9,000
SCBA and Turnout Gear = $15,000
Street Paving = $160,000
Concrete Wall Repair = $20,000
Sidewalk Repair = $13,000
Vehicle for Park = $25,000
Park Mower = $16,000
The only capital project to be financed by debt is for a boom mower costing $120,000.
It allocates approximately $160,000 for street paving. Increases sidewalk repairs by $3,000. It covers the cost of purchasing a new police car, two new trucks – one for public works and the other for the Parks and Recreation Department. It includes purchasing a larger tractor with a side boom mower to reach farther into deep ditches, which will cost about $120,000 (financed over 3-4 years).
Following a motion to adopt the budget ordinance by Alderman Gwin Anderson and second by Alderwoman Joyce Hurt, the motion was unanimously approved. The ordinance takes effect July 1, 2020.
Under new business, board members discussed the status of the former CSX Railroad Property, where the old railroad bridge passed over Pikeview near the intersection of Jones Street.
Mayor Jeff Washburn mentioned Sam Bone and Terry, owners of WC Gas & Oil, have expressed interest in developing the property.
On the recommendation of City Attorney Beau Pemberton, the mayor suggested filing a quitclaim interest on the property and deed it to Weakley County Gas & Oil. He noted this would put it back on the tax rolls and generate tax revenue.
However, there was a legal question as to who actually owns the property.
“It’s my opinion we own that property,” Anderson said. He stated the City of Dresden purchased the property from the railroad in 2011 for $55,000. “Should we just give it to them?” he asked.
Anderson noted out of 17 acres, the city paid $5,000 per acre for 11.04 acres and the remaining six acres is easement.
Following discussion, Alderwoman Hurt made a motion to approve deeding the property to WC Gas & Oil, which failed 4-1 with Alderman Willie Parker being absent. Mayor Washburn explained that Alderman Parker, who works for the WCMES had to work to restore electric power in the wake of a severe thunderstorm.
A motion by Anderson to table the matter until next month passed 4-1, with Hurt casting to only “no” vote.
In other board action, a budget amendment resolution calling for transferring funds available from other line items into capital expenditures in the amount of $9,250 for the purchase of six tasers for the Dresden Police Department received board approval.
Police Chief Steve Howe explained Phazzer’s bid includes: charger, rechargeable batteries, three new design dart cartridges, and a hard carry case. The phasers are under a 1-year warranty, and the firm supplies an in-house transition instructor to provide training certification. On Chief Howe’s recommendation, the bid submitted by Phazzer was unanimously approved.
In department reports, Mayor Washburn stated there has been more public participation in the Facebook Live meetings than when they were held in person.
The mayor stated several streets and the Walking Trail were blocked by fallen trees and limbs from Sunday afternoon’s storm which kept city crews busy clearing brush. He added local residents should leave their brush near the edge of the street for pick up. However, he cautioned it may be several days before all of the brush can be hauled off, due to the sheer volume of debris.
“We’ve been meeting with a team of about five department heads three days per week to see how we and our employees are doing,” the mayor said. He stated this includes monitoring employees for the coronavirus and telling them if they are sick, don’t come to work. “We’re trying to keep everybody safe and our crews working as best we can.”
BY DAVID FISHER