BY DAVID FISHER
DRESDEN (October 4) — During the October 4 meeting of the Dresden Board of Mayor and Aldermen, members discussed the City’s improving financial condition, and how surplus funds might be used to save money on interest by paying off loans early.
Debt Payments & Financial Report
Mayor Jeff Washburn updated the board on the status of outstanding loans.
He stated, the final payment on a $110,000 loan for the purchase of property on American Drive, will be paid off on October 5.
The mayor said, a general obligation bond for street lighting in the amount of $301,457 was refinanced at a lower interest rate in 2018 and the payments were accelerated. For these reasons, the loan is scheduled to be paid off June 21, 2023. Following an audit a couple of weeks ago, the auditor stated, because the City has a healthy fund balance, it should pay off some of these loans. Based on the auditor’s recommendation, the mayor requested the City pay off the remaining balance owed for the street lighting, at $99,276. Mayor Washburn noted it would be best to pay off this debt first, since at 3.08 percent, it has the highest interest rate. This would leave the City owing only one loan, before becoming debt-free.
Alderman Kenneth Moore made a motion to pay off the note for the street lighting, which was approved with aldermen Lyndal Dilday, Kenneth Moore, Sandra Klutts and Ralph Cobb voting for the measure. Aldermen Gwin Anderson and Willie Parker were absent.
Mayor Washburn stated, the City’s only other debt is for a new fire engine, which has not yet been delivered. “We’ve been paying on it since November of 2020,” he said. “After making 10 payments, we still owe $181,897.”
Another cost-saving measure being undertaken by the city involves replacing the older-style streetlights with LED lighting, which is much more energy-efficient. This has resulted in the energy cost for street lighting to decrease every year. “It’s currently $2,000 less annually, and once all of the streetlights are converted to LEDs it will result in a significant savings,” Mayor Washburn said.
Street Paving and Patching
The mayor stated the grinding and paving of Linden Street is completed. He noted, although this has expended all of the money in the budget for street paving, there are still funds available for street patching. Mayor Washburn mentioned Public Works Director Josh Lassiter has scheduled Ford Construction Company to do some patching work before the end of October.
Alderman Dilday mentioned the bridges on Evergreen Extended need to be patched. Additionally, Mayor Washburn stated Swanson Drive needs to be repaved.
On the suggestion of Alderwoman Klutts, the board agreed to investigate the possibility of adding Hunt Street, which is currently a privately-owned street, to the city’s road maintenance list, providing it is the proper width and meets all other requirements. The road connects Farm Service Agency to Highway 22.
Mayor Washburn announced Justin Crice was hired as director of the Weakley County Economic Development Board, following the resignation of Shelby Spurgeon. He stated, prior to his appointment, Crice worked at the University of Tennessee at Martin. City Attorney Beau Pemberton stated Crice has served on the City of Martin Planning Commission for the past couple of years, and described him as being very conscientious and detailed-oriented individual.
Mayor Washburn mentioned that director Crice and Weakley County Chamber of Commerce President Amy Lewellen will provide all city boards within the county with a quarterly report outlining their activities. He mentioned the WCEDB president, vice-president and treasurer, as well as the chamber president will be encouraged to attend quarterly city board meetings to give an update on their efforts and answer questions.
According to Mayor Washburn, the new Ford Motor plant being built at the Memphis Regional Megasite has the potential of bringing new supply industries to Weakley County, including parts manufacturing facilities.
Mayor Washburn stated everything is moving forward with a potential industrial recruit locating at Dresden Industrial Park. “The lawyers are drawing up the paperwork,” he added.
“We also submitted a request for information for a 20-acre site we have on Evergreen Street.
Rezoning Ordinance and Budget Resolutions
The board approved the first reading of an ordinance that involves rezoning property from residential to commercial. The rezoning request was unanimously approved by the Dresden Planning Commission during its September 30 meeting.
The ordinance involves a site plan submitted by Terri and Jackey Lamb to construct mini storage buildings at 1601 E. Main St. The property is zoned R-1 (Low Density Residential); however, it has been used for commercial purposes for years, as an extension of the trailer sales also owned by Jackey Lamb. There is an adjacent property, also owned by Lamb, which is zoned B-3. The current trailer sales business spans both properties and a strip of unimproved right-of-way between the two properties.
A resolution authorizing the acceptance of a $100 donation for the Dresden Police Department was approved by unanimous vote. A second resolution budgeting the funds and earmarks the money for small equipment items was also approved.
Complete Streets Plan
Another major topic of discussion during Monday night’s Dresden City Board meeting involved the results of a study outlining a Complete Streets Plan, which lists the improvements of city streets to address traffic and pedestrian safety concerns – particularly at dangerous intersections. (See separate article, “Dresden Approves Street Improvement Plan.)