By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Mayor Matt Quattro opened with a prayer and The Pledge of Allegiance. Council member and Recorder Terry Stone and council member Kim Trathen were absent from this meeting, though a quorum was still present. The minutes from the January 14 meeting were reviewed noting a correction in dates before being approved.
No guests wished to speak moving directly into committee reports, beginning with Joe Dumire, volunteer for the cemetery committee. Current checking account balance is $12,145.21. The committee has been taking inventory on needs of the cemetery, which include items such as weed eaters, gravel, and tree removal with total estimated for these being approximately $4,400. To cover these expenses, Dumire requested keeping $6,000 in the cemetery account and transferring $4,000 to the Endowment Fund. Council member Erika Smith made the motion to approve this request with Councilman Junior Davis making a second.
Dumire has also contacted the Delsignore Foundation, who has deposited $2,000 into the Endowment Fund, bringing the balance up to $13,105. Come spring, monuments that have fallen will be reset along with other projects to revitalize the cemetery are on the committee’s agenda. Smith asked Dumire where he would like to see the cemetery be. “The ultimate goal is for the cemetery to be completely self sustaining and take the burden completely off the city,” he replied. Quattro responded, “It can happen, it just takes time.”
The City Planning Committee meeting was canceled, though Quattro stated they are almost done with a draft to present to the council that will be opened to the public for comment within the next few months. The Community Center Committee provided a report that Quattro offered to the council, noting $432 was donated by the Eagles. They have recently encountered around $1,000 in repairs and bills. The current amount in their account is $8,846.04 with several improvements to the facility planned, including attic insulation, patching the parking lot, kitchen appliances, flooring repairs, lighting and switches, and window replacements. Officers for this committee remained the same with the exclusion of one who moved out of town. Quattro announced that the dance classes that were being held at the Thomas Community Center will no longer be held, but they are being relocated to Davis.
The Mountaineer Days Committee has yet to convene as they are awaiting information to come from the former committee. The New Historic Thomas group is currently inactive, and the only announcement from the Holiday Decoration Committee was the need for two more fixtures and additional wiring to complete the town project. There is currently around $4,000 left in that account to use on that project. Smith requested to appoint David Downs as a secondary person to represent Thomas as part of the Mon Towns Group. Councilman Seth Pitt made a motion to appoint Downs to that committee with a second by Councilman Jody Flanagan.
Old business brought an announcement by Quattro that the city has received a check from FEMA for $41,317.61 to perform projects needing addressed due to the most recent natural disaster. These projects include paving on Euclid Avenue, ditching, boat ramp repair, a drop inlet on Brown Street, and more. Seventy-five percent of the funds are provided from federal and 25% are from state funds. “Is there a timeline for that,” asked Pitt. Quattro responded, “No, but we’ll probably try to get to it as soon as possible.” A lot of the work will be contracted out to the lowest bidder. Work that the city wishes to perform outside of the FEMA funds will be funded through the 1% sales tax fund.
Moving into new business, Quattro clarified positions available for the upcoming city election, which includes positions of mayor, recorder, two four year council persons and a two year council person. Those up for re-election, if they so choose, are Davis, Pitt, Smith, Quattro, and Stone. The election will be held May 5.
Bills were reviewed and approved before moving into council reports. Davis had nothing at this time and Flanagan stated the new flag pole has come in and will be installed when weather allows. Pitt announced he has been approached multiple times by community members asking what the 1% city sales tax is being used for. He expressed a desire to receive more detailed reports to show what is coming in and where it is being allocated. Quattro handed out a special revenue account report to show where the sales tax is being placed and how the council can vote to use these funds. This lead to a discussion regarding a better record keeping system for the city that would make reporting to the council easier for all involved.
Smith asked if the CVB has been being paid monthly from the hotel/motel tax collected due to her noticing a lack of checks being signed to do such. “I just want to make sure we’re doing that monthly,” Smith said. “No we are not,” replied Quattro. “We do it on occasion. We do it when we accumulate some money and we have time to do it,” he said. Smith asked why they weren’t being paid regularly and Quattro gave several reasons, including the people aren’t paying their tax on time and it takes too long to do it regularly. Smith expressed a desire to pay this fee regularly knowing that, like the city, the CVB has budgets and expenses that need to be paid therefore they need to receive their payments in a timely fashion. She said if the issue is the citizens aren’t paying their bills in a timely fashion, something needs to be done to encourage meeting those deadlines; however, Quattro disagreed, stating, “We’re not going to mess with that.” Pitt agreed with Smith adding that these entities are subject to auditors as well and the lack of timely payments can mess up their bookkeeping. Quattro responded that the only way to ensure this “petty Annie stuff” be done in a timely fashion is to hire another employee to take on the tasks. His other suggestion is to come up with an average and pay each entity monthly and balance out the payments at the end of each year.
The mayor’s report followed with Quattro noting the four wheel drive in one of the trucks has been fixed. He also wanted to draw attention to the conditions at the water and sewage plants. “We have problems at both,” he began. He provided a print out of parts that are typically on reserve at the plant that are not in use, meaning there are no back up parts in case of a malfunction. “There’s only one problem, there aren’t any,” Quattro informed. “Our plant is obsolete and those parts are not available to anybody.” Fortunately, the city has worked with an individual in the past who is working on demolishing a plant similar to that of Thomas’s and can salvage the parts that they currently need. “We need those parts in stock in case we have a problem with the plant,” he confirmed.
“We need to build a new one,” stated Davis. Pitt asked for a ballpark estimate of what it would cost to construct a new water plant, with Quattro responding with a figure of $2 to $3 million. Thomas has found themselves in a similar situation as Parsons where the water and sewage fees are below the PSC standards making them ineligible for certain grants that could aid in funding a new facility. Quattro has someone looking into the situation and evaluating the rates so they can go to the PSC and decide what they need to do as far as the rates are concerned. As for the spare parts needed, there is money in the special revenue account from paying off a bond that could be utilized to purchase these spare parts to buy time until a more permanent plan can be developed to construct a new plant. Pitt made the motion to use those funds to purchase these much needed parts with Smith making a second.
The next item needing addressed is the sewer plant generator that is inoperable and outdated, therefore no spare parts are available for repair. This unit is used when the power is out, which after approximately two days the sewage begins to discharge into the river. To purchase a new generator sufficient to operate the plant would be roughly $30,000 to $50,000. It is also under consideration to convert the now diesel powered unit to gas, which a line already exists to the plant to do so after further investigation of the possibility. Quattro wanted to bring the council’s attention to the need and hopes to have more solid information at the next meeting to move forward with. “Everything we have is 25 years old and it’s worn out,” he said.
The council went into executive session before adjourning the meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for March 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Thomas City Hall.