Samburg officials approve budget, consider liquor-by-the-drink proposal

Samburg officials approve budget, consider liquor-by-the-drink proposal

Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 9:09 pm
By: Kevin Bowden, Staff Reporter

By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Final approval was granted Monday night to a new $146,930 budget for the City of Samburg.
Also, the Samburg mayor and board of aldermen has opened the door on allowing liquor-by-the-drink sales in town.
Sandra Neely, a partner in The Pier restaurant, approached the board Monday night and asked board members to consider allowing liquor-by-the-drink sales in town.
The Pier restaurant already sells beer. Ms. Neely pointed out to the board there have been no problems at her business related to beer sales.
She told the board her restaurant business has struggled this past year and, by allowing liquor-by-the-drink sales, it would boost her revenues.
“This is just something we’d really like to do,” Ms. Neely said. “We tread water every day.”
The board appeared open to Ms. Neely’s request and agreed to place the issue on its April agenda.
Of significance in the city’s 2010-11 spending plan is the reduction of the  donations line item by $2,500 and the use of $15,380 from fund reserves to balance the budget.
The new budget covers four pages and shows $131,550 in total revenues and $146,930 in total expenditures for the fiscal year. The 2010-11 spending plan will mean the city will have to pull $15,380 out of its $126,818 in fund reserves to balance the budget.
At Monday night’s meeting, the board spent a considerable amount of time discussing the city’s $3,000 line item for donations.
“I certainly don’t like it at $3,000,” board member Juni Fickle said about the budgeted amount for donations.
She proposed eliminating the donation line item completely, but her proposal failed by a 4-3 vote. Mayor Larry Gene Davis cast the deciding vote after the board deadlocked 3-3 on the issue.
Voting for eliminating the $3,000 line item were board members Woody Cook, Eddie Fickle and Gerald Reed. Voting against the motion were board members Johnnie Johnson, John Vancleave and Mrs. Fickle, even though she made the initial proposal.
Davis quietly pondered his decision for several minutes before he finally broke the tie when he voted not to eliminate the $3,000 line item from the budget.
Board member Eddie Fickle then offered a second proposal to reduce the city’s donations to $500, and that motion passed by a 4-2 vote. Voting for the motion were board members Eddie Fickle, Mrs. Fickle, Reed and Cook. Voting against the motion were board members Johnson and Vancleave.
It was unclear whether the elimination of $2,500 in donations line item will affect the board’s use of its fund reserves to balance the city budget.
Also during Monday night’s hour-long meeting, the board discussed pay raises, the city’s fire department and garbage collection in the city.
Although no decision was made Monday, board members discussed possible pay raises for the town’s police chief, James Hack, and city judge Sam Nailling. Johnson brought the issue up before the board, which decided to table the matter until its April meeting.
Also discussed by the board at its Monday night meeting was the issue of the town’s garbage collection. The board is considering turning over delinquent accounts to a collection agency. A new accounting and billing system for garbage collection is being installed at City Hall to help new city recorder Mary Swain handle billing.
In other action, the council:
• Was questioned by Johnson as to why the city didn’t seek applications for the fire chief’s position rather than appointing Ken Hogg to the position in February. Johnson also questioned why the board is allowing the fire department to spend money without the board’s approval.
“Checks have been signed without the approval of the board,” Johnson said. He even described the fire department’s actions as “illegal” and demanded an explanation.
Johnson went on to criticize the fire department in several other areas, including the department’s response to grass fires and lake rescues, and he even questioned the reckless manner in which the fire trucks are driven to fire calls.
“The chief and captain need to come to the meeting,” Mrs. Fickle said in response to the questions.
The issue is expected to resurface at the board’s April meeting.
• Discussed but took no immediate action on a request from the Reelfoot Tourism Council to find a new location in the town for the July 2 fireworks display. The board has also been asked that the town be involved in a boat parade, barbecue cook-off and street dance, all in connection with the July 4th holiday.
• Was advised by the mayor that the town’s zoning laws remain in effect and that board member Reed is the zoning administrator. The Samburg board acts as the town’s zoning board. The mayor’s statement came in response to a question by Johnson.
• Approved paying the city’s $250 annual dues for membership in the Tennessee Municipal League’s insurance program.
In a related matter, it was revealed after Monday night’s board meeting that the city and Al Hamilton have reached an out-of-court agreement on his two civil lawsuits against the city.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by e-mail at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.9.11

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