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Sewer hooked up to promote jobs

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Highland City Council has agreed to connect a planned restaurant to the city sewer system in hopes of bringing in more revenue and jobs to the city.

During the July 8 council meeting, Mayor Jerome Norwood suggested the council consider providing a sewer connection to Bill Johns' planned restaurant. The restaurant, once completed, will be located on Highway 62/412 near Highland Cove.

"It's strictly an economic development type deal," Norwood said.

The connection will be made on the same terms as provided under the original construction contract the city had with individual property owners, Norwood said.

The city will install a service line from the main line to the restaurant location, install a grinder pump and control panel for the pump on the property. The main line runs across the back of Johns' property, Norwood said. The line costs 35 cents per foot, he said. The grinder pump and control panel to be used will be taken from other properties destroyed by the Feb. 5 tornado, he said.

Johns will then be responsible for making the connections to the building, Norwood said, adding that Johns did not ask for the connection.

Norwood said the connection would give the city an opportunity to invest in an economic development project. The restaurant would not only bring in additional sales tax revenue to the city but also would provide additional jobs to local residents, he said.

Norwood said some of the hold up on the project has been meeting rules and regulations required by the state health department before construction could begin. Johns purchased his city building permit soon after the meeting.

The council agreed to Norwood's proposal to provide the connection; however, Alderman David Harris abstained from the vote.

"I think it's a good idea but I'm going to pass on the vote," he said. Harris said he told Johns he could use his contractor's license to get things going on the project.

In other business, Norwood informed the council the city is having problems with the sewer lift station on FM101 Road. Sewer gases are seeping into the control boxes from the wet wells. The city has already installed one new starter in the equipment and the other is going bad, he said.

Norwood said the city is looking at possible solutions to the problem and pricing starters.

Norwood said Charter Communications contacted him once again about a possible agreement with the city. Although the council voted down such an agreement recently to avoid passing on franchise fees to customers living in the city, the company still wants an agreement with the city.

Norwood said although the agreement is nonexclusive, it would allow the company to legally provide service within the city limits.

The council is to review the new proposed ordinance, which does not include franchise fees. It will be discussed again at the August council meeting.

Allen suggested some changes to the proposed ordinance. Once such change was to include a section requiring the company to have a toll free number where customers can reach a customer service representative within 100 miles from Highland. Allen said he has had the cable service and is tired of speaking with someone from India about a problem he is having locally.

The city will purchase an assortment of fire department equipment.

The city will purchase a cascade system and compressor from American Airworks for $21,622.10, four airpacks and six cylinders from Metropolitan Fire Extinguisher Company for $16,674 and nozzles from Emergency Service Products for $903.

The council opened bids for the equipment at the June city council meeting. At that time the council voted to purchase the best equipment at the best price. The detailed bids were later reviewed by Norwood and Recorder/treasurer Mary Ruth Wiles. Each company had the lowest bid on that specific equipment, Norwood said.

All of the equipment will be paid for from funds received from FEMA and a $13,000 grant the city received last year for equipment.

The council unanimously approved a resolution to amend the 2008 budget. The general fund revenue decreased by $60,000. The adminstration expenses increased by $8,050. The fire department expenses increased by $2,600, the police department expenses increased by $6,000, the street department expenses increased by $5,000 and the sewer revenue and operating and maintenance expenses increased by $12,500.

Norwood said the city sent a letter to the owners of the former Wing Shack informing them that they need to clean up their property. The mayor then said he heard back from the couple soon after. The couple contracted with the same group that cleaned up Midway Plaza and is currently cleaning the former Pap Beardsley Chevrolet property; however, the couple has been unsuccessful in reaching the group.

Alderman Larry Allen then asked why the city hasn't written a letter to the owners of the former A Rose Garden florist shop on Highway 62/412. Norwood told the council that property is tied up in bankruptcy leaving the city unable to take any action at this time.

Recorder/treasurer Wiles said the sales tax has increased from that received in June by $2,700; however, the sales tax is still down by $4,000 from the same period last year. Year to date the city's sales tax is down $35,000 from 2007.

The council agreed to have Norwood look into selling an old city police car through an Alabama company called Government Deals that sells government equipment. The city will pay the company 7.5 percent of the final sales price of the car.

Norwood said although the council had discussed selling the fire department's old rescue truck in the local auto auction, he instead sold it to a man who paid $200 cash.

Alderman Harris asked Fire Chief Stephen Davis about the possibility of having a crew from Spring River Paramedic Ambulance Service stationed at the new fire station once it is constructed at the former site of Midway Plaza.

Harris said the ambulance service responds to a great deal of calls to the nursing homes and highway accidents. He said the location of the fire department would be a good location to have an emergency crew.

Davis, an EMT with SRPAS, said there are two crews who are stationed at the Pines station in Cherokee Village. One crew works 24 hours and the other works 12 hours. He said it is possible to have the 12-hour crew stationed at the fire station. Davis is to check into the matter further.

Norwood said although the Moore Brothers business has closed Cox Kawasaki has purchased the property and plans to move into the location soon.

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