MINUTES OF A REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
OF THE MAYOR AND THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE
CITY OF TALLASSEE, ALABAMA
MAY 14, 2019
The Mayor and the City Council of the City of Tallassee, Alabama convened in regular session on Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at the Tallassee Municipal Complex. The meeting was called to order by Mayor John Hammock and the following were recorded as present:
Mayor John Hammock
Council Members Jeremy Taunton
Sarah Hill – absent
John Smith was present as city attorney and City Clerk Barbara Garnett acted as clerk for the meeting.
Mayor Hammock presented the minutes of the council work session held on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. There were no additions or changes. Upon motion of Council Member Godwin and a second by Council Member Taunton, the minutes were approved by a unanimous vote.
Mayor Hammock presented the minutes of the regular council meeting held on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. There were no additions or changes. Upon motion of Council Member Taunton and a second by Council Member Brown, the minutes were approved by a unanimous vote.
Item 1: Mayor Hammock declared the public hearing open for comments for or against the unsafe structure located at 14 Sistrunk Street. Anyone wishing to speak will be allowed 3 to 5 minutes. In a letter that MR. Wylie Troupe, owner of the property, had given Mayor Hammock to read, it stated that he would have bids for the roof and part of the back wall replacement by May 20 and then the rebuilding would begin. He also said that there was someone from Birmingham who is interested in purchasing the property. Mr. Troupe said that it takes time to do things.
Council Member Godwin stated that there is potential damage and liability. We want specific start date to even consider this, we need to see this come to fruition, we all have the history and know the economic impact it could have. Mr. Troupe replied that the start date would be as soon as the bids come in.
Mayor Hammock stated that the building burned 10 years ago and no one wants to be the one to tear it down but it can’t be left alone. There is a good possibility that someone will get hurt, a brick has already fallen, the flashing is loose and the back wall could fall. It is not personal, it is a safety issue. He stated that it concerns him with customers, parents and children going to surrounding businesses and the dance studio. He stated that it needs to be repaired or torn down, he is looking out for the safety of the citizens.
Council Member Stough asked if it doesn’t sell, will he still go forward with the repairs. Mr. Troupe said he would. Council Member Stough stated that everyone wants to see the hotel reopened because it is as asset to the city. He agrees that the city needs a plan and a start date to fix. He is a strong supported but safety is a big issue.
Council Member Brown asked that since this is private property but something happened, who would be liable. City Attorney John Smith state that he hoped the city wouldn’t be liable but if the city is aware of unsafe conditions, it should do something.
Council Member Godwin stated that is the bids are in by May 20, we need an absolute start date. He recommended an ongoing progress report be submitted to the Mayor and Building Inspector to be sure that this gets done in a reasonable timeframe. It needs to be fixed or appropriation action would be taken.
Council Member Taunton asked if the city could request an indemnification agreement from Mr. Troupe releasing the city of liability. However, Mr. Troupe stated he would not do that without first discussing that with his attorney.
Mayor Hammock asked if there anyone else would like to speak.
Bill Patterson wanted to bring up the issue that 10 years ago at the time of the fire that the city’s ladder truck was not available due to transmission problem and that a truck had to come from Wetumpka. Mr. Smith stated that was not relevant to the current topic of discussion. Council Member Godwin stated that he could speak if it was relevant. Bill Patterson stated that he represented someone who was interested in buying the property who wanted to open the restaurant first then eventually the hotel part.
Brooke Rigsby stated that she was not for the hotel building to be torn down and had been waiting for it to be fixed. She has had a dance studio business for 7 years and hundreds of children are in and out every day. If a brick falls, someone could get hurt. It’s been sitting there for 10 years and she hoped the Council would consider his bids and get the repairs done.
Council Member Godwin recommended that Mr. Troupe get the bids in by May 20 and have a confirmed start date of June 10. He would like for him to give a specific plan of what is to be done within a certain time frame and a progress report on a daily basis to the Mayor and the Building Inspector.
Council Member Brown asked if the vote is to tear it down, would demolition happen within the week. Mayor Hammock stated that it is a process involving advertising and getting bids which could take several weeks. Then, Mr. Troupe could appeal that decision to the Circuit Court.
Council Member Godwin made a motion to allow Mr. Troupe to get the bids in by May 20 with an absolute start date of June 10, provide specific progress reports weekly with substantial progress toward a reasonable end date and safety measures put in place while under construction. Council Member Stough made a second. Upon a vote, there were 2 yays, 3 nays and Council Member Wilson recused. Motion did not pass.
Council Member Brown made a motion to declare the property unsafe and for it to be demolished. Motion died for lack of second.
Council Member Taunton stated that the building lost the historical value when it burned. The issue now is safety.
Council Member Godwin stated that it has an economic impact for the city. And made a motion that Mr. Troupe should be allowed to get the bids in by May 20 with an absolute start date of June 10, contingent on specific work plan of progress approved by Building Inspector. His main concern is the safety issue. Council Member Stough made a second. Upon a vote, there were 4 yays, 1 nay by Council Member Brown and Council Member Wilson recused.
Mayor Hammock declared the public hearing closed and continued with the items on the agenda.
Item 2: Mayor Hammock presented a resolution to declare property located at 305 Jordan Avenue a public nuisance. Building Inspector explained that the grass is approximately 4 inches high in the front and 4 ½ inches high in the back. Council Member Taunton made a motion to approve the resolution, seconded by Council Member Stough. Upon a vote, the motion passed unanimously. Resolution #2019-613 was adopted.
Item 3: Mayor Hammock presented a resolution to declare property located at 402 James Street a public nuisance due to the growth of high grass. Council Member Stough stated that it appeared that the grass had been cut when he rode by. Mr. Coker explained that the neighbors had cut the front but the grass in back was still high. Council Member Taunton made a motion to adopt the resolution and keep the grass cut for the rest of the summer. Council Member Brown made a second. Upon a vote, the motion passed unanimously. Resolution #2019-614 was adopted.
Item 4: Mayor Hammock presented a resolution relating to the annual Water Pollution Prevention Program. Council Member Wilson made a motion to adopt the resolution, seconded by Council Member Brown. Upon a vote, the motion passed unanimously. Resolution $2019-615 was adopted. Council Member Wilson stated that once the sewer plant is complete which will require Class III operators, we need to budget higher pay for those employees as an incentive to attract employees to the city.
Item 5: Mayor Hammock introduced an ordinance that would increase the garbage fees to $17.00 a month. Council Member Stough stated that he wished there could be another way to address this issue without increasing rates. If we’re trying to fix something that we’ve had for 30 years in 4 years, it’s always easy to increase rates or taxes. It does hurt those on fixed incomes.
Mayor Hammock stated that he is the answering service for Advanced Disposal. He constantly receives complaints since the city mails out the bills for the garbage service. He is not trying to raise rate, just trying to break even. The city is losing approximately $1million dollars a year on water, sewer and garbage. It has been subsidizing the general fund from the utilities. People outside the city limits pay $50/quarter which is approximately $17 /month. It is a fight every day in the city, scraping to get by while losing money.
Council Member Taunton stated that he appreciated Mayor Hammock for turning over stones, looking for way the city can hold on to or gain dollars.
Council Member Godwin stated that no one is willing to raise rates but cannot continue to lose money, and may not can fix it in 4 years but can start the process. We’re trying to do this in increments and we’re still under what other cities are charging. Tallassee has been behind, just trying to catch up and move Tallassee forward into the 21st Century. Mayor Hammock is doing his homework and not trying to put the burden on anybody but trying to cover costs and pay the bills.
Council Member Stough suggested a plan that people could call city hall for a pick up and someone could go out and check for price. Mayor Hammock replied that he didn’t have the manpower for the additional work that would add.
Council Member Brown state that East Tallassee use the limb trucks a lot but not just for limbs but for household goods. The trucks were built for limbs not heavy household goods.
Mayor Hammock stated that you have to take your heart out and put in the facts. If we keep losing money, we will have to cut back somewhere like the senior program or the recreation program/
Council Member Godwin made a motion to suspend the rules to consider the ordinance, seconded by Council Member Taunton. Upon a roll call vote, the following was recorded: Voting Yay – Council Members Taunton, Carr, Wilson, Brown, Godwin and Mayor Hammock. Voting Nay – Council Member Stough. The ordinance cannot be considered since the vote was not unanimous to suspend the rules. This will be on the agenda for the next regular council meeting on May 28, 2019.
Item 6: Mayor Hammock presented the proposal from LED Solution concerning the replacement of lighting in the city buildings with LED lights. This was discussed at a previous council meeting. Council Member Godwin made a motion that the service contract be adopted, seconded by Council Member Stough. Upon a vote, the motion passed unanimously.
Item 7: Jamelle Jelks expressed appreciation to the Chief of Police, the Police Department and Council Member Carr for everything they do for Ward 3. Next, he addressed the Council with concerns of certain activity that goes on in his neighborhood and asked for help. Chief Higgin stated that the police do everything they can within limits. You can’t stop people from just gathering but we can’t be everywhere.
He gave statistics of calls and reports from January 1st. Council Member Carr thanked the Police department for what they do and thanked Jamelle Jelks for addressing this. Council Member Wilson stated that the police have held community events trying to get people involved. Mayor Hammock expressed appreciation to the police department and to Jamelle Jelks. He stated that the police department hasn’t been full staff since he’s been in office. We can’t pay to attract officers because we’re losing $1 million in utilities.
Item 8: Mayor Hammock presented a proclamation welcoming back the Class of 1954. They will be celebrating their 65th class reunion on May 18, 2019. Council Member Taunton made a motion to adopt the proclamation proclaiming May 18, 2019 as the Tallassee High School Class of 1954 Day in the City of Tallassee. A second was made by Council Member Godwin. Upon a vote, the motion passed unanimously.
Item 9: Mayor’s Reports: Mayor Hammock made the following comments:
Tallassee NOW Riverfest Event will be on June 6 and 7, 2019.
The City of Tallassee was presented with the ACE Program award at the annual convention of the Alabama League of Municipalities. He wanted to thank everyone who assisted with this program for their hard work.
This is National Police Officer’s Week. He expressed thanks to the Tallassee Police Department for everything they do.
The new website is active now. The online bill pay is due to be active soon.
The water tanks need service maintenance. He received an estimate of $11,350 to inspect all four tanks and vacuum the tank floors if necessary. This is included in the budget and should be performed every 3 to 5 years. All council members were in agreement.
Monday, June 3, 2019 is a state and county holiday. City Hall will be open but the tag office from Tallapoosa County will not be open.
July 5th is on Friday. City Hall is closed on Thursday, July 4th. Mayor Hammock asked the Council Members about giving the city employees a bonus holiday on Friday, July 5th. Council Member Godwin made a motion to approve the bonus holiday on July 5th for this year only. A second was made by Council Member Wilson. Upon a vote, the motion passed unanimously.
For the Alabama 200 event, plans have been discussed with the Talisi Historical Preservation Society to
Some members of the Tallassee Economic Development Committee traveled to Birmingham on Friday, May 10th to go through the Retail Academy hosted by Retail Strategies. Great information was provided and some of the information will be on the new website.
Mayor Hammock stated that the ALDOT permit had been issued for the gas line replacement that will be from Hilltop Grocery to the bridge at Apple Grove. There is a budget of $200,000 for this project. The bid opening will be June 5, 2019 at 2:00 .p.m.
The downtown utility line replacement project is scheduled to begin this summer and the flow meter project for the sewer plant is complete.
Mayor Hammock reported that there will be a balance of approximately $50,000 in general fund account after payroll this Friday, $410,000 in the water/sewer account and $1,026,000 in the gas account.
There is a balance of $253,000 in the account for infrastructure projects.
There is a balance of approximately $288,000 in the account for the school project. We still have not received a scope of work or a timeline from the school board. This was discussed at the meeting on February 28, 2019 at which he, Bill Godwin and John Smith had with some of the school officials.
There will be a resolution on a future agenda concerning a CDBG Grant application for the demolition on unsafe structures. It is a $250,000 grant with a $25,000 match.
The 100 Mile Bike Ride group has requested a pledge to assist with the prevention of child abuse. The Finance Committee will need to discuss this for the next budget year.
Item 10: Council Reports: Council Member Taunton stated that he took the council position to do what is best for the city whether it makes someone mad or hurt. It is upsetting when someone says that something happened years ago because the fire department didn’t do what they should have. People shouldn’t have to be told to cut their grass or take care of their property.
Council Member Brown stated that he would vote for anything that is unsafe. He explained that there was an incident 10 years go where a house was condemned and the property owner hired 2 people off the street to tear it down. The roof collapsed and one of the people, his aunt, died. We need to do what’s best for all citizens when there is something unsafe.
Council Member Godwin state that we can’t control what people say and we can’t fix decency. This Council has done more this term and need to continue to do what is best for the city.
Council Members Carr, Wilson and Stough had no comment.
Item 11: There being no further business before the Council, upon a motion made by Council Member Godwin and a second by Council Member Carr, all Council Members present voted to adjourn the meeting. The meeting adjourned at 7:37 p.m.
JOHN HAMMOCK, Mayor
BARBARA B. GARNETT, City Clerk