BY DAVID FISHER
DRESDEN (April 4) — The Dresden City Board dealt with a broad agenda, during their regular monthly meeting on Monday, April 4, 2022.
Board members voted to apply for a water and sewer grant, accepted a tornado damage donation, discussed FEMA grant requirements, heard an update on debris removal, discussed the building design of a planned Municipal Complex, heard an audit report, approved a bid for paving Evergreen Street, approved a sewer tap for a new business, heard department reports, approved a budget resolution, and heard announcements.
Water and Sewer Grant
The board approved a resolution authorizing the city to provide matching funds for a Small Cities Block Grant for fiscal year 2022.
The Community Development Block Grant application states that the City of Dresden wishes to apply for up to $630,000 in grant funds for water and sewer system improvements.
Dresden will be accountable for providing the match rate of no less than 17 percent. This match rate was determined by Economic and Community Development and includes a four-point reduction for Three-Star Communities.
The City of Dresden will commit local funds for the match, as well as for any additional funding required to complete the project beyond the awarded grant amount.
Approval of the resolution authorizes the mayor of Dresden to commit local matching funds to the proposed project, and to sign all necessary assurances, agreements, or contracts required for recipients of CDBG funds.
The funding will be utilized to reduce wastewater inflow, in order to bring the city into compliance with state regulations. The resolution was approved by unanimous vote, with Alderwoman Sandra Klutts being absent.
Tornado Damage Donation
Mayor Jeff Washburn announced that Putman County is donating $160,000 to the City of Dresden to benefit local citizens in response to the December 10, 2021, tornado. The money will go into Dresden Rotary Club’s Disaster Relief Fund, and West Tennessee United Way, which is a 501c3 charitable organization, will hold the funds until disbursed as needed.
The mayor stated the money will be used to assist displaced citizens with a down payment on a new home, rent deposit, and to help rebuild uninsured or under insured homes.
Also, homes just outside the city limits may also qualify to receive funding.
Applications for a portion of the donated funds, which are described as “blind applications,” do not identify the applicants. They funding requests are granted based on the need and cost of need.
The board voted unanimously to accept the donation.
Mayor Washburn stated FEMA requires the city to hire a monitoring contractor to oversee work performed by the contractor hauling away building debris caused by the tornado. The contract may be revised at the May meeting or earlier if a called meeting is necessary.
The mayor delivered the good news that FEMA has agreed increase the amount it will pay for tornado cleanup from 75 percent to 90 percent. This leaves 5 percent of the matching grant funding to be paid by the City of Dresden and 5 percent by the State of Tennessee.
FEMA will calculate the reimbursement for hauling off the debris based on the cubic yard.
According to Mayor Washburn, the grant funding only pays for building debris removal and disposal. The city is responsible for covering the cost of brush removal. He reported some of the brush that has been hauled off has already been burned, but noted the brush may be burned, buried or left to rot.
Quality Contractor Services headquartered in Milan, has been contracted to haul off construction debris in the City of Dresden caused by the tornado to an approved landfill at $50 per ton.
According to the agreement with Quality Contractor Services, the construction debris is to be loaded from the city’s right-of-way. The contract stipulates that the firm’s trucks and equipment may not leave the paved roadway, and no vegetative debris or trash is to be picked up. Construction debris is to mainly be piled on the side of the street within the city’s right-of-way.
Mayor Washburn stressed local citizens need to get their construction and vegetative debris moved out next to the road, before the six-month window closes for FEMA relief funding.
If the property owners wait too long, they may be responsible for the total costs.
The City of Dresden anticipates utilizing Quality Contractor Services for approximately one or two months, or until the debris removal is complete, but no more than six months beginning from the date of the declaration on February 3, 2022.
“Integrity Group is helping us meet FEMA requirements, and to know what grants are out there,” Mayor Washburn said.
During the board’s March meeting, Integrity Group was hired on a 90-day contract to facilitate municipal grant applications and to hammer out a permanent contract for the duration of need of services. The firm will also serve as consultants for assistance with FEMA oversight, reimbursement requests, grant research and application submittal, the rebuilding process, and assisting other businesses through the same oversight process.
Mayor Washburn and City Recorder Jennifer Branscum are tasked with the job of ironing out the details of the contract, before a permanent agreement is signed.
According to Mayor Washburn, the charge for this service will be paid for out of city funds initially, and later, submitted for reimbursement through the administrative costs built into the FEMA grants.
Concerning the construction of a municipal complex on the south side of the court square, the mayor said, “They have started shooting the grade.”
Regarding developing the plans for the municipal complex, he noted a standard set of plans will be presented to the board to allow input from department heads and board members, and the plans will be revised as the board deems necessary.
Alderman Kenneth Moore requested Integrity Group provide the board with regular updates in order to provide accountability of the costs.
Auditor John Poole, CPA, informed the board the audit of the city’s financial records is complete and he gave a clean audit report with no findings.
“You brought in more money than you spent and did capital improvement projects,” Poole said.
He stated city hall employees diligently seek to collect the money owed the city and places the revenue where it is supposed to be budgeted.
Poole complimented city employees for doing a great job maintaining the city’s financial records.
Finance Director Carla Edwards stated there has been no reduction in sales tax revenue this fiscal year, but she anticipates an 8 to 10 percent reduction in fiscal year 2023.
Mayor Washburn stated the city needs fuel-powered electric generators to power the sewer lift stations during prolonged power outages, in order to prevent sewage from backing up.
The mayor informed board members a new business is locating in Dresden, but needs a sewer tap run to the location of the planned facility. He described it as a Quick Stop convenience store that is to be constructed on Highway 89 near the intersection of the Highway 22 four-lane. Mayor Washburn stated C.G. Underground submitted a bid of $26,400 to bore a sewer line underneath Highway 22 to the other side. The mayor suggested the business owner pay half of the cost, since the sewer line is for that one business. A motion to have the city pay half and the business owner the other half of the cost passed by a vote of 4-1, with alderman Willie Parker voting against the measure.
The Police Department report revealed the new police cars have arrived, but are awaiting the delivery of components needed to outfit the vehicles for police use. Several patrol cars were damaged in the December 10, 2021, tornado.
Mayor Washburn stated funds are in the budget to pave of Evergreen Street from Linden Street to just past the Church of Christ, and proposed moving forward with project. A bid from Ford Construction amounts to $248,524.98 and includes: 2-inches thick TDOT 411-E asphalt mix (including tack coat) costing $177,027.60; cold planning bituminous pavement priced at $39,577.68; and street striping costing $31,919.70.
During discussion, it was pointed out that the striping in the construction bid calls for paint, costing $31,919.70, rather than heat striping, which lasts longer but costs approximately $60,000.
Alderman Kenneth Moore stated the roadfill along the sides of Evergreen Street needs to be packed to prevent the edges from collapsing and possibly causing an accident. The mayor agreed and said it would be done. The board approved the bid by a vote of 4-1, with Alderman Gwin Anderson voting “no.”
Alderman Lyndal Dilday stated the first bridge leaving town on old Highway 22 going toward Gleason is in very bad shape, and something needs to be done to resolve the problem.
Local Dresden resident Chase Kesterson suggested the city look into contacting a biomass company, which would haul off fallen limbs and branches to be utilized at their facility. He stated this would save the city the cost of hauling off the vegetative debris, and would burn cleaner than coal, which is better for the environment.
The board approved a budget resolution moving funds between line items to compensate for unanticipated increases in fuel costs, insurance rates, and other expenditures.
General Fund budget transfers are as follows:
- The largest amount is $300,000, which is transferred out of fund balance, and used to cover the tornado recovery expense for fuel and debris removal. However, the $300,000 will be reimbursed by FEMA.
- A total of $4,526 budgeted for SCBA replacement is transferred to cover the local matching funds required for a countywide map grant, which will be used to purchase new radios.
- Funds in the amount of $8,640 are transferred out of capital outlay into insurance to cover the increase in insurance rates.
- Due to the higher than budgeted need for machinery and equipment parts, $101 is transferred out of maintenance and repair to cover the cost.
- A total of $12,521.26 is transferred out of health to pay for costs associated with a high usage of overtime for tornado response, as well as for higher than budgeted costs for electricity, repairs, chemicals, fuel and sundry supplies.
- To correct a budget upload that entered funds into the wrong line item, $4,750 is moved from employee training into worker’s comp.
- A total of $1,230 is transferred out of health insurance to cover Rotary membership not budgeted, as well as higher than budgeted costs for gas, repair and maintenance, small items of equipment, and fuel.
- Money in the State Law Enforcement Education Grant amounting to $6,400 is transferred into salary and wages for police officer training.
Water Fund budget transfers are as follows:
- Funds totaling $10,000, which are budgeted for an aerator for the water department, are transferred to cover the purchase of a new service truck, and the purchase of the aerator is deferred until fiscal year 2023.
- A total of $8,555.63 is transferred out of retained earnings to cover fuel rates being higher than the past few years, and insurance rates higher than budgeted, as well as tornado recovery expenses.
- In order to cover higher than expected insurance rates, $3,287.96 is moved out of health insurance and placed in worker’s comp.
- Because the Assistant Public Works director was not made an exempt employee, salaries amounting to $39,244 are moved to the wage line.
- Due to overtime being higher than expected because of the tornado; an increase in insurance rates; and the annual TDEC sewage treatment bill being higher than the prior year, $4,824.47 is transferred out of health insurance into these lines as needed.
The budget resolution was approved by a unanimous vote.
The board agreed to move next month’s meeting from Monday, May 2, to Monday, May 9, due to it conflicting with Dresden Iris Festival events.