BY DAVID FISHER
DRESDEN (June 13) — The Sharon City Board dealt with a light agenda when members met on Monday, June 13, 2022.
Financial Management Issues
The board heard a report from Chloe Humphries, who is a CPA with the auditing firm Cowart-Reese-Sargent, regarding efforts to make the city’s financial operations more efficient, transparent and in line with best financial management practices and to correct any deficiencies from the previous administration.
Items reviewed included ensuring bank reconciliations are up to date, which means they should be no more than one year old. There were also checks and cash, which had not yet been recorded. The checks and cash had been kept in the cash drawer or safe and not deposited daily, as required. Additionally, the city is required to report this information to the state within three days.
There were some invoices that had not been paid and were delinquent. Humphries stated invoices are required to be paid monthly or bi-monthly.
Policies regarding how employee pay and comp time are determined needed to be specified.
Additionally, budget amendments were not being posted as they were approved.
The audit indicated there were appropriations made in the solid waste fund and state street aid fund exceeding their budgets.
Humphries mentioned some documents were approved with a signature-stamp of the previous administration, which is not a true authorization.
The board considered replacing an old culvert located in a ditch adjacent to property owned by Bradley Smith. It was mentioned that the culvert is collapsing and is restricting the flow of water, causing the rainwater to cover the street. In addition to directing the flow of water, the culvert also gives Smith access to his property.
According to Public Works Director Greg Evans, a replacement culvert needs to be 36 inches wide and approximately 30 to 40 feet long. Evans stated he has not yet been able to get a price for that size culvert, but a smaller one costs about $300.
Alderman Stewart Broussard said the city should install a plastic culvert, providing it is not exposed to fire. He explained a plastic covert has a much longer lifespan than a metal culvert, since it would not rust.
Discussion centered on whether the city or the local property owner is responsible for replacing the culvert.
When asked for his legal opinion, City Attorney Jeff Washburn stated, the determining factor is, who installed the culvert and for what purpose. If the city installed the culvert for drainage purposes, then most likely, the city is responsible for replacing it. However, if there was originally a ditch there and the property owner installed the culvert for personal reasons, then he is responsible for replacing it.
Alderman James Gary Roberts suggested, since nobody knows why the culvert was installed for certain, the city purchase the culvert and Smith pay to have it installed.
Smith stated he has already compromised by not insisting the concrete over the culvert be replaced. He said, he would be happy to simply get packed gravel over the culvert.
The board voted to replace the culvert, providing it costs no more than $800. If it is more expensive, the issue will be revisited at the July meeting.
In department reports, City Recorder Becky Hames requested the board require departments inform her about accounts being opened so she can keep up with all purchases made with city funds. Although no purchases were made by any department over $500, she noted a purchase was made on an Amazon charge account without her knowledge.
Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bostwick reported some recent ballgames had to be cancelled due to rain. He said upcoming games are rescheduled for 7 p.m., due to the excessive heat.
Public Works Director Greg Evans stated a new water well is being drilled and will be capable of pumping 200 gallons per minute.
Fire Chief Gary Eddings, Jr. reported his department received a $21,000 grant for Sharon Fire Department, which will be used to purchase turnout gear for the firefighters.
Police Chief John Andrews stated he is seeking to hire full-time police officers to join the force, and suggested the board consider including a pay raise in the budget for Sharon police officers to attract applicants. He presented board members with a list of officers’ pay in surrounding counties to give them an idea of what Sharon officers should be receiving to be competitive. In the meantime, Andrews noted he has been able to obtain a couple of part-time officers to help out.
A report from the Sharon Condemnation Board centered on determining if local buildings have code violations and need to be repaired. It was mentioned that there is a problem contacting the owners of an apartment building to inspect the interior of the structure. Without an inspection, it is impossible to determine if the building is in violation, and forced entry requires probable cause. For these reasons, it was decided to research the matter further to see what can be done.
The board voted to give city employees the day off on Monday, June 20, for Juneteenth, which is a federal holiday.