BY DAVID FISHER
During Monday night’s meeting of the Dresden City Board, members voted unanimously to apply for a Community Development Block Grant totaling up to $400,000 for improving the city’s sewer system by expanding its floating wetland at the city’s sewage lagoon.
Community Development Block Grant Project
The Dresden Board of Mayor and Aldermen agreed to apply for a Community Revitalization Project through the Community Development Block Grant program.
A resolution authorizing the city to providing matching funds for the CDBG grant out of the current fiscal year’s budget was approved.
The resolution authorizes the city to apply for up to $400,000 in grant funds to implement improvements to the city’s infrastructure.
Dresden will be responsible for providing a match rate of no less than 17 percent. This match rate was determined by Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and includes a four-point reduction for Three-Star Communities.
The board discussed four possible options the city could apply for funding using CDBG funding.
Option 1: Storm Sirens – costing $310,000.
Option 2: Sewer Rehab – costing $300,000.
Option 3: Wilson Park Amphitheater – costing $385,000.
Option 4: Installing a third floating wetland at the city’s waste water lagoon – exact price to be determined, but costing less than $400,000.
Alderman Gwin Anderson said, “I think there are two choices – the sewer system or the floating wetlands.” He noted in his opinion, these are the two projects that have the best chance of getting approved for grant funding.
Alderman Kenneth Moore said, “I’m in total agreement with Gwin.” However, Moore said his preference is to use any grant funding the city might receive for improving the sewer system.
Moore stressed that some of the city’s sewer lines are so old they could collapse, if something is not done to replace the aging pipes.
Moore suggested identifying the worst areas in the sewer system and using the grant funding to rehab these sections of sewer lines first.
Mayor Mark Maddox stated the city is in the middle of evaluating its sewer system and is moving forward with rehabbing it. He said, “We have money in the bank waiting to be spent on the rehab project right now, and I don’t see someone giving us a grant to fix what we’re already scheduled to fix.”
Alderman Dale Hutcherson asked how the city is going to fund the city’s 17 percent match for the grant, if it is approved.
The mayor answered saying, “If the city is awarded the grant, the local matching funds would come out of next year’s budget.”
According to Maddox, the cost for building an additional floating wetland is going to “be in-line” with the other three proposed projects being considered. Additionally, he noted, although the floating wetland lagoon system does not involve replacing sewer pipes, it is part of the sewer system.
City Attorney Beau Pemberton said the state engineer reports that the city is having good results with the existing system, and an additional floating wetland will help even more to keep the nitrogen and phosphorus levels down, while simultaneously improving sewage flow.
Alderman Curtis Doran made a motion to approve the application for the CDBG to borrow up to $400,000 to build a third floating wetland at the city’s sewage lagoon.
Alderman Moore voiced his agreement with the motion. He said the two floating wetlands are not able to handle all of the waste and a third would greatly improve the operation of the lagoon system.
When the issue came to a vote, aldermen Anderson, Doran, Hutcherson and Moore voted in favor of the motion; while aldermen Ralph Cobb and Willie Parker were absent.
Another topic for discussion involved a legal question over whether or not the city is responsible for paying an invoice submitted by Dresden Attorney Roy Herron for representing the aldermen in a lawsuit involving former Mayor Jeff Washburn.
When asked to update the board concerning the invoice, City Recorder Jennifer Branscum read the response received from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office, which stated that the city was not responsible for the invoice. It reads as follows:
“The city of Dresden’s charter specifically says that “the City Attorney is responsible for advising the Board and officers and employees concerning legal aspects of their duties and responsibilities; approving as to form and legality all contracts . . . and performing such other duties as may be prescribed by the Board.”
There could be instances where the city would have to retain outside counsel, e.g., lack of subject matter expertise, or if the city attorney cannot represent the official/governing body due to a conflict of interest, etc.
In those instances, the governing body should follow its procurement procedures established either through its charter, ordinances, and/or general law.
From the information provided below, it is not established that there was a need for the aldermen to retain outside counsel due to any disqualifying circumstances involving the city attorney.
It is a fair observation that there may be a conflict where there is a lawsuit between the sitting mayor and the board, but that is not disclosed in the information below.
Even if there were disqualifying circumstances, there is no information provided that the aldermen publicly discussed the issue or that they followed the city’s procurement procedures and entered into the contract outside of through a public approval process. If they entered into the contract outside of their official authority, then the contract is void.”
Maddox said, “So basically, they said no.”
“Mr. Herron submitted this invoice and regrettably, there’s no authority from the city board for the city proper to pay the invoice,” Pemberton said.
“So, we’ll consider that matter closed,” Maddox said.
Alderman Anderson said the matter needs to be followed up on. “Herron needs to be told the city cannot pay the invoice and he should bill his clients (the aldermen) individually.”
Revenue Sharing Resolution
The board approved a resolution supporting the restoration of 4.6 percent of all state general fund sales tax revenue, as well as the local share of sales tax revenue realized by increasing the single article cap in 2002 to collect on items with a purchase price between $1,600 and $3,200.
Branscum estimated Dresden would receive approximately $56,000 annually, based on the city’s sales tax revenues in 2002.
(See article, Revenue Sharing of State Sales Tax Revenue” inside this edition.)
The board approved a resolution authorizing the acceptance of donations from an anonymous donor in the amount of a $150 for the general fund, and $25 for the Dresden Police Department.
The board approved a resolution amending the budget for the current fiscal year.
The resolution reallocates funds as follows:
• budgets an insurance reimbursement in the amount of $1,308.95 for repairs to a patrol car;
• budgets a $1,500 grant for Dresden Farmers Market, which will be used for ground maintenance;
• and budgets $6,400 provided by the state for in-service training of police officers. Of this amount, $800 is allocated for the police chief’s salary and $5,600 for additional wages for police officers.
The Dresden City Board will meet Thursday, March 9 at 6 p.m. at McWherter Civic Center to review the outside design of the new municipal complex.
Additionally, Moore reminded the board that the condemnation board meets on Monday, March 27.
The next board meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 3 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.