Obion rate altered: Monthly garbage bills to increase

Obion rate altered: Monthly garbage bills to increase
By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Residents of Obion are about to see their garbage bills go up — from $15.20 a month to $18 a month.
The Obion city council voted unanimously Monday night to draft an ordinance establishing the new rate.
The council will hold a public hearing on the new garbage rate at 6:45 p.m. March 19. The council will also have a called meeting at that time and will consider preliminary approval of the ordinance. Second and final approval of the ordinance will be considered when the council holds its next regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. March 19.
The new $18 garbage rate is being made necessary due to the city’s losing about $1,000 a month on garbage collection, according to Mayor Glen Parnell.
“We are losing money badly on this,” Public Works director Randy Evans told the council.
“We need to adjust our rates,” council member Bob Anderson replied. “You’ve just got to stop the bleeding.”
At Monday night’s meeting, Evans said he and other city officials met with Bryan Barker of Barker Brothers Waste Inc. Evans recommended the council seek different options when it seeks bids for its 2012-13 garbage collection contract, including possibly turning over the service to a garbage collection company rather than having the city handle the billing.
Monday night’s near 90-minute meeting dealt with a variety of town matters, but it was a called meeting a week ago that finally settled three lawsuits against the city by former public works director Charles Steffen.
“As you know, a representative of TML Risk Management Pool and Mayor (Glen) Parnell and members of this council participated in a mediation or settlement conference concerning Mr. Steffen’s two workers’ compensation lawsuits and his wrongful discharge lawsuit with our attorney, Michael Russell, the mediator and Mr. Steffen and his attorney,” the minutes of last week’s called meeting state.
Under the settlement, the city will pay Steffen $105,000 to settle his lawsuits. The TML Risk Management Pool will pay $78,500 of that amount and the city will pay the remaining $26,500.
The settlement agreement also includes provisions that prohibit city officials from making “any disparaging remarks about Mr. Steffen” and “Mr. Steffen agreeing not to make any disparaging remarks about the Town or Mayor, and Mr. Steffen agreeing not to seek employment with the Town of Obion at any point in the future in any job capacity.”
“The entire settlement is conditional upon both court approval of the workers compensation settlement and the Board approval of the wrongful termination lawsuit settlement,” the minutes of last week’s meeting state.
Another legal issue, involving the council’s dispute with Elite Electric Co. over a $10,000 bill for electrical work, remains unresolved. The council had offered a $2,900 settlement for the bill, but that offer was rejected and the council has now rescinded its offer. Two Union City attorneys, Jim Powell and Roger Fisher, are reportedly trying to negotiate a settlement between the company and the council.
In other action Monday night, the council:
• Reappointed its budget committee, with the addition of council member James Depriest. Others reappointed to the committee include Parnell; council members Patsy Barker, Polk Glover and Renee Webber; and city recorder Jana Fluty. The committee will go right to work reviewing two health insurance proposals submitted for city employees.
• Rejected all bids for surplus equipment at the city’s public works department. The council instead authorized Evans to sell a trencher, compressor, welder and Ford pickup for scrap at A&J Salvage.
• Accepted a recommendation from Evans to install two 1,000-gallon fuel tanks behind the city’s public safety building on Palestine Avenue. One of the tanks will be used for diesel and the other tank will be used for gasoline and both tanks will be designated for use in the event of an emergency and for after-hours access by city vehicles.
The city already has one 1,000-gallon tank and Evans will work on acquiring a second tank for use by such vehicles as the public works department trucks, police patrol cars and firetrucks.
At one point during the discussion, Obion resident Jason Moore questioned why the council doesn’t look into whether there are grants available to help finance the fuel tanks, which would be used as part of the town’s emergency preparedness plan. Moore also suggested the council look into how other small towns have handled the acquisition of emergency fuel tanks.
“That’s a good idea,” Parnell said.
• Agreed to have Evans work on a recommendation for the summer mowing of city property. He is expected to make his recommendation to the council at its next meeting.
Monday night’s meeting was opened in prayer led by Glover and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Parnell. Council member Mike Miller was absent from the meeting.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 3.7.12

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