City of Thomas Facing Issues with Sewage Treatment Plant

The City of Thomas gathered Tuesday, March 3 to review the city election ballots and discuss the issues they are facing with a problematic sewage treatment plant.

By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate

A quorum was present even with the absence of Councilmen Junior Davis and Seth Pitt at the Thomas City Council meetring. Mayor Matt Quattro called the meeting to order with The Pledge of Allegiance and prayer over the meeting. Councilman Jody Flanagan made a motion to approve the minutes from February 11 with a second by Councilwoman Erika Smith.

No guests were present moving the meeting into committee reports, beginning with Joe Dumire, Chairperson over the Rose Hill Cemetery. He stated the endowment fund balance was still at $13,105.86 with no recent deposits. The transfer of $4,000 will be signed during this meeting and put into the endowment fund from the cemetery account. The checking account balance sheet was not available yet, but Dumire expects the cemetery account balance to still be at $12,145.21. Quattro told Dumire he will get him a copy of the statement as soon as it is available from the bank.

Dumire told the council that lot sales were $2,400 being $150 per single space with a two space minimum. “So that represents 16 spaces,” he said adding that $50 per space is allocated to the endowment fund, which amounts to $800. One burial took place in the cemetery on March 2, with Dumire stating, “There’s $475 to open and close the grave, the city keeps $50 and the balance goes to the vendor.”

With a multitude of projects taking place currently, Dumire requested permission to contact Jim Wilfong regarding the removal of three trees. $2,000 was donated by Hope, Love, and Charity that was specified for maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery which could be used for the project. Dumire stated he would only go forward with the project if the total cost would not exceed $3,000. Smith asked if additional quotes should be requested when Quattro informed Wilfong was local and “charges about half” of what anyone else would charge. Quattro said he had no problem with Dumire doing so, but Smith asked if a quote should be received from Wilfong prior to ensure it wouldn’t exceed the $3,000 allotment. “No, you can just talk to him, he’ll tell you how much he’ll charge when he looks at them,” stated Quattro. Dumire assured it he won’t permit Wilfong to go forward if the cost is over $3,000, so permission was given for Dumire to go forward with the project.

The City Planning Committee has not met yet, though there is a possibility for a meeting within the next week. Recorder Terri Stone spoke on behalf of the community center committee, stating they met last Thursday and discussed potential fundraisers and activities for the upcoming year. Quattro requested either a written or verbal report from the committee to present at each meeting. Smith also requested contact information for the community center as two residents have expressed inability to reach someone and unsure who to contact. Stone assured she will find out.

The Mountaineer Day’s Committee held a community meeting for those interested in volunteering to attend. Either by attendance or submitting an application, 10 individuals expressed interest in assisting with the event. Stone asked how the meeting went with Smith stating, “The meeting was fine, everything leading up to it was sour.” “People showed up to the meeting,” added Quattro, “that’s all I cared about.” The council approved the list as presented then the committee will appoint their positions within the group. Monday March 9 at 6 p.m. will be the next meeting of the Mountaineer Days Committee which will take place at City Hall.

The New Historic Thomas, Holiday Decoration Committee, or on Forest Towns groups have not had a meeting since the last council gathering. There was also no old business to discuss.

New business consisted of a review of the May 5 election ballot. For the upcoming city elections, those who filed to run include the following: For a two year mayor position, Matt Quattro, for a two year council person term, Charles Davis, Brandon Zirk, and Kim Johnson, and for a four year council person term, Junior Davis, Erika Smith, and Joe Dumire. There are currently no filings for the two year recorder position. Write in candidates have to file within the city office within 49 days of the election. Quattro explained once the current recorders term expires at the end of June, the city can appoint one. Councilwoman Kim Trathen asked if absentee ballots would be available and Quattro confirmed they would be. He said all the information was still packaged in the box and details would be reviewed as it is unpacked, though he said there would be no early voting.

Council Reports only consisted of Smith asking about the trash bags for the receptacles on Front Street that the council formerly agreed to provide. She said a community member asked where they could get some and Smith referred her to City Clerk Kathy Helmick. The resident stated they had done so but was told they didn’t have any, but Quattro said they were in the closet for people to request as needed. Another community member had asked if additional signage could be put in place for the overflow parking available on the railroad grade that several visitors do not know about. Smith said she would be checking with the Mon Towns Initiative to see if any funding was available for such projects. Her last agenda item was to draw attention to some of the overlook decks and stairways needing repair when weather permits.

The Mayor’s Report consisted of Quattro providing the council with a detailed sales tax report and expense dating back to 2015. “That gives you an idea what we’ve done with the sales tax up to this point,” he stated. During review of the projects funded with the city tax, Smith asked about the item labeled debt reduction. “It had to do with an adjustment and transferring money over,” he said. “That was a onetime deal,” added Stone, “That was supposed to be paid back.” Quattro said “The debt reduction thing, voted on that at a meeting because we were in financial trouble at one time and that got us back on track again.” He continued, “And basically it was, it was, if, if the city every got to the point where they could pay that back into the fund, to the general fund, they would. So far we’re not there yet.” This action dated back to December of 2016 and was in the amount of $39,000. “Revenue that year wasn’t very good apparently, we just got way behind,” stated Quattro. “We went over all of the bills that we had that were past due you know, and so forth, and we took the money from this fund to straighten everything out,” he added. “So we started out the year ’17 with a clean slate with the idea that maybe one of these days the city will be in better financial position and be able to just put that back into the special revenue account out of the general fund. Right now we’re not at that point, but we’re holding our own, we haven’t had to steal anymore money out from this fund and we have $92,000 in the fund to determine what kind of projects you want to spend that money on,” Quattro said. The next payment is expected this month and estimated at $20,000.

He followed up with a leachate report that stays separate from the other accounts and funds. “A lot of the money from the leachate money is spent on engineering and consultations,” informed Quattro. “We’re trying to get the DEP to allow us to make some money,” he added. A meeting is scheduled in Charleston later this month with the city’s engineer, consultant, and two Bowls Rice lawyers. “We’re trying to develop a strategy to be able to go to the DEP and try to figure out what the heck we’re going to do with the sewage plant and how we’re going to be able to finance it,” he announced. “Right now, the city does not have a working plant for the sewage treatment plant and we need to get that squared away with DEP.” He continued, “They did not like what we presented to them last year, they haven’t come back to us with anything and we have to go forward.” Quattro hopes a meeting either this month or next will be scheduled with the DEP as well.

Quattro also stated they are continuing to check on a generator for the sewage treatment plant that needs replaced and he also awarded the contract to Don Johnson who was the lowest bidder to install the drop inlet on Brown Street. This project will be complete utilizing FEMA money with expectations for work to begin within the next few weeks.

Due to being earlier in the month than meetings are usually scheduled, there were no delinquent water or sewage bills to review at this time. There was also no need for an executive session therefore the meeting was adjourned. Thomas City Council is scheduled to return to business on April 14 at 6:30 p.m.

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