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Martin board nixes energy project

Martin board nixes energy project
By MARY JEAN HALL
Special to the Press
MARTIN — Monday night the Martin board decided to not move forward right now on a 10-year energy project, which could potentially save the city about $200,000.
Despite the savings, the initial debt on the city of Martin would be roughly $864,000, said Martin Mayor Randy Brundige.
“They’re fixing to spend a lot of money, and we need to know what direction we need to go in, whether we need to proceed or stop at this point,” Brundige said. “We’re at the point now where real dollars are fixing to come into play… and we need a recommendation from this board on how to proceed.”
“We think we have found some fairly significant savings that would enable us to help you address your issues,” Miles Mennell, account executive for Ameresco, said to the board.  “At the end of the term of the project, you will have paid back all of the equipment, all of the installation, all of the loan and you’ll be about $200,000 in the good.”
Many aldermen posed concerns about whether the initial debt incurred would put the city over the debt limit, including Alderman David Belote.
“Where will it put us in the debt ceiling?” Belote inquired.
City Recorder Chris Mathis informed the board that the energy project should still keep the city under the threshold, but upcoming projects for this fiscal year, such as the downtown enhancement grant and safe house, might put it over the ceiling.
“That might throw us into a little bit of difficulty with that,” Mathis said.
Mathis noted that the energy project could put the other projects in jeopardy.
Belote noted two possible options that he thought the board could choose from.
“We’ve asked these good people to do a study, and to show us where our shortcomings may be,” Belote said. “That’s where our decision is, is to take that information and see what we can do in house… Another way is to move forward with the contract with these folks.”
“Have we done our due diligence with that information to see how much of this we can do in-house?” Belote asked.
Mennell replied that the major difference in the two strategies was that Ameresco would guarantee all savings, and if the savings obligations were not met, the company would pay the difference.
“We view the strategy as a win-win because there is no way you’re at risk ever,” Mennell said. “We take all of the risk on ourselves. We’re in the business of doing jobs that will be successful, and we see this as a job that has every opportunity for being successful. We don’t much like writing checks to anybody, but we will should we fall short in anyway.”
Last October the board authorized to pay $6,000 for the energy audit by Ameresco to determine if they wanted to move forward with the project.
“We do thank you for all of the investigative work that you’ve done… There is value in this type of project but I just don’t feel that it’s best for us at this time,” Alderman David Sudberry said to Mennell.
The board unanimously voted to not move forward with the energy project at this time.
Brundige announced that Human Resources Manager Celeste Taylor would be leaving her position in about 30 days to fill a position with the Tennessee Municipal League. Taylor has been in her position since November of 1987.
Alderman Terry Hankins wished Taylor well with her endeavors.
“The city is losing a very, very good employee,” Hankins said. “I wish her the best in whatever she’s fixing to get into.”
“I would like to say thank you to the board and my coworkers,” Taylor said. “The relationship that I have with you guys has been awesome. I’m humbled and I love you all.”
Brundige also announced that Chris Mathis may be able to keep his position as City Recorder part time. Mathis has been looking to retire from his position with the city.
The matter is being looked into, and Mathis noted that he hoped to help make the transition as painless as possible.
The board unanimously approved Resolution R2013-05, which authorizes the issuance of capitol outlay notes. Mathis said that he, along with the mayor, reviewed the city’s debt policy and thought that the city was well in the limits of the debt policy, which is about 21 percent.
After some discussion the aldermen approved four mowing bids for the city.
Lamar Lawn Care won the bid for three areas: about 60 acres of open area at the Martin Recreation Complex for $13,440 per year, about three acres at the lift station located at Harrison Road for $1,040 per year, and City Hall, National Guard Armory and Poplar Falls Park for $2,780 per year.
The board awarded Tim Foster the bid for the ornamental beds and shrubs for $9,000 per year. Jake Watson, who had submitted the other bid for the ornamental beds and shrubs, requested that the board reconsider his bid, citing that it was cheaper for the taxpayers at only $8,075 per year.
Several aldermen on the board told Watson that they were comfortable with Foster’s work, and that they would have given more consideration if he made it to the pre-bid meetings.
“I wish you were there,” Hankins told Watson.
Brundige congratulated the Lady Westview Chargers for their appearance at the state level, and also to the UT Martin Women’s Basketball team for winning the OVC Championship.
Martin Community Development Director Brad Thompson announced that the second annual Historic Downtown Martin St. Partick’s Day Parade would be Saturday, March 16 at 4 p.m. The parade will line-up at Southern Milling at 3:30 p.m.
Thompson said that several downtown businesses will have sales, and businesses, such as The Stables and Opera House, have events planned for that night.
Thompson looks for the event to be festive, and encourages everyone to come out and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

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