Kenton rec program volunteers: New lawn mowing plan won’t ‘cut’ it

Kenton rec program volunteers: New lawn mowing plan won’t ‘cut’ it

Posted: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 9:05 pm
By: Kevin Bowden, Staff Reporter

By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Kenton City officials got their first taste Tuesday night of how difficult it’s going to be balancing the city’s budget without cutting services.
The city council met for nearly two hours Tuesday, with the meeting dominated by a discussion of lawn mowing bids.
At issue was a move last month by the council to solicit bids to mow all city property, except the city’s ballpark off Highway 45. The council had hoped to turn over the ballpark mowing responsibilities to the Kenton summer recreation program’s volunteers and, in doing so, save the city some money.
What the move did was to anger volunteers in the summer recreation program, several of whom turned out at the council’s Tuesday meeting to protest the move.
Several of those who spoke out on the issue accused the council of not caring about the community’s youth, an accusation that was strongly denied by council members.
Group representative Travis Little informed the council that more than 120 youth have signed up for the city’s summer baseball program. He was joined at the meeting by several other volunteers with the summer recreation program.
“We do support our young people,” Mayor Virginia Davidson told the group during the discussion.
At the heart of the issue is the city’s financial crisis heading into the 2011-12 fiscal year. The council is hoping to avoid a property tax increase while maintaining a balanced budget.
“We are broke now. I’m telling you, we are broke,” council member Tim Johns told the group.
Mrs. Davidson added after a lengthy discussion of the issue, “I still don’t think you understand the shape the city’s in.”
It became obvious during the discussion that the council was in the position of having the desire to help the summer recreation program but didn’t have the ability due to the city’s financial crisis.
“You just don’t realize how bad it is,” Mrs. Davidson told the group.
After that statement, three bids were opened to mow city property. The bids ranged from $200 to $325 per mowing.
The council, based on the concerns of the delegation from the recreation program, tabled the issue and then rejected all three bids and will solicit new bids from each of the three bidders. The new bids will include mowing the city ballpark area. A called meeting will be held on March 15 to review those bids.
An option open to the council and the recreation program is sharing the cost to mow the ballpark area.
It was estimated that the main mowing season lasts from April through late June or early July, which covers the period when ballgames are played.
The council then moved on to opening bids to reroof the city’s community center, and once again found itself facing another tough decision. Two bids to install a new roof were opened, with the cost ranging from $29,160 to $42,200.
“I think we might need to look at repairing the leaks for now,” council member Wade Simpson said.
Again, the city’s financial crisis came into play as the council rejected both bids and will ask the two roofing companies to inspect the roof and submit bids to repair it.
After turning away from spending money on the ballpark and the community center, the council did approve the purchase of three new Dell computers for City Hall.
The city will spend $3,437.58 for two desktop computers and one laptop computer, all three of which will be installed at an estimated cost of $500. It was also announced during the meeting that computer consultant Ben Edwards will assist with the installation at a cost of $100 per computer.
The council agreed to add the cost of the computers to a loan that it already has for its police cars and a fire truck.
In other action, the council:
• Unanimously approved the reappointment of Steve Meeks as Kenton’s police chief. In a related matter, the council also agreed to conduct annual job reviews of all the city’s department heads.
• Received updates on renovations to the city’s youth center and was informed that the city’s backhoe is being repaired in Jackson. The backhoe was transported to Jackson courtesy of local farmers Amos and Daniel Huey, a move which elicited praise and gratitude from council members.
In fact, during the course of Tuesday night’s meeting it was brought up the city could use more volunteer assistance in taking care of the town’s needs.
• Reviewed a letter from Obion County Sheriff Jerry Vastbinder outlining how his department will handle dispatching for the city.
• Was informed by the mayor that community surveys are being scheduled as a prerequisite for a new Community Development Block Grant, which, if approved, will take care of major ditch clearing in the city.
• Council members praised city recorder Camelia Cunningham for getting the minutes from the last meeting to them so promptly.
Tuesday night’s meeting was opened with a prayer led by Mrs. Davidson.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by e-mail at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.2.11

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