Obion city officials frustrated by ongoing financial problems

Obion city officials frustrated by ongoing financial problems
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Financial problems continue to frustrate Obion city officials.
At the Obion City Coun-cil’s meeting Tuesday night, financial concerns dominated the near hour-long session.
To open the meeting, public works director Randy Evans was the bearer of bad news. He informed the council the city has received a $9,800 bill from Elite Electric for work on two of the city’s water wells.
“I’m not at all happy with it,” he told the council about the bill.
“No more than what they did, that is absolutely absurd,” Mayor Glen Parnell said.
“I just know in my heart that is not right,” Evans said.
He said he is discussing the bill with Elite Electric officials.
Immediately following that announcement, Parnell informed the council he has received a bill for more than $12,000 from Atmos Energy for gas storage and is trying to work out that issue.
Then came the bid opening for blacktop work on city streets. Ford Construction Co. submitted the lone bid of $290 per ton for hot mix repair, which was deemed “way too high” by Evans. He recommended — and the council approved — rejecting the bid and rebidding the blacktop repair contract.
Then Evans took another turn at delivering some more bad news for the council. He updated the council on a case in Obion County General Sessions court this week involving a vehicle crash last fall near the town’s ballpark. Evans explained a vehicle crashed into a city fire hydrant, causing about $1,800 worth of damage to the hydrant. The defendant in the crash is being represented by Union City attorney David Hamblen, according to Evans. He told the council he discussed the city’s claim with Hamblen and General Sessions Judge Jimmy Smith and was informed there is some dispute over whether the city will be paid to repair the hydrant.
“It’s completely ludicrous to me,” Evans told the council as he explained how angry and frustrated he got during his telephone conversations with Hamblen and Smith. “I can get no common sense from this … I can’t get heads or tails out of this.”
After a lengthy discussion over the issue, the council decided to have city attorney Roger Fisher look into the case and report back to the council. If a settlement isn’t reached through the court, Evans reported Obion taxpayers would be responsible for picking up the bill to repair the damaged fire hydrant.
It wasn’t all bad news Tuesday night, however. Evans did deliver a sliver of good news during his report to the council.
“I’d like to report to the board the well is back on line,” he said.
The well he referred to is the city’s No. 1 well off Sixth Street near the Obion Grain Co.’s storage building.
Evans said the city well is currently pumping 572 gallons per minute at the wellhead.
The Obion City Council is moving forward with its plans to hire a new police officer, despite all the city’s financial problems.
Council members discussed the police department vacancy for several minutes. Despite concerns about being able to afford a new police officer, it was the consensus of the board that not having a fully-staffed police department would create more problems.
In other action, the council:
• Was approached by Evans about updating the city’s website.
“I really think it needs to be finished,” Evans said. “I pulled it up this weekend and I was very disappointed in it.”
He encouraged the council to get the website updated and use it as a marketing tool to promote the town.
“I’ll leave that challenge to y’all. Let’s push it … let’s promote Obion,” Evans said.
The city’s website was first introduced during former Mayor Wes Miller’s administration and was being developed by John McMahan, but apparently the website remains unfinished.
• Was given an estimate of $15,000-$16,000 to repair the roof over the City Hall building, using prisoner labor. The city has yet to advertise for bids for the project but was given cost estimates from Home Builders Mart and Woody Steel for the materials that will be needed to repair the roof.
• Was informed by city recorder Jana Fluty that she is trying to set up a meeting with the city’s health insurance representative, Gary White of Whiteville. He presented a health insurance plan for city workers this past July that was approved by the council, but some concerns have arisen over the insurance plan.
• Was informed the antique shop on Palestine Avenue may be closing, according to Parnell, who suggested possibly developing the city-owned building into a museum.
• Agreed to allow Roy Albright to remove the steel beams from the former City Hall building. He will pay the city 12 cents per pound for the beams.
Tuesday night’s meeting was opened in prayer by council member Polk Glover.
Published in The Messenger 1.19.12

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