The Salem City Council met on Thursday, Nov. 19 and began with a discussion on the FEMA reimbursements from the February ice storm damage. "All of the FEMA money that we have been reimbursed has been deposited back into the accounts that it came out of, so everything should be back to normal," said Mayor Gary Clayton. "Bear in mind, we're still owed about $22,000 from FEMA and approximately $12,000 from the state. We can't get the state's match until FEMA has settled. They have agreed with our figures and know that they still owe us about $22,000. I'd like to get that in before the end of the year, so we won't have to carry it over into the budget next year, as we may not make it."
The much debated dog ordinance was put on hold until the December meeting to allow all councilmen the time to review the draft ordinance presented by city attorney Dwayne Plumlee so that a final draft can be decided on at the next meeting. The current draft proposal includes a list of dogs deemed dangerous, including several breeds of Terriers, wolf-hybrids, chow chows, pit bulls and more; requirements for current owners to be able to keep those dogs within city limits; and fines and penalties for breaking the ordinance.
In department reports, Police Chief Albert Roork was on vacation this week and will present a double report in December. Fire Chief Heath Everett reported that the department went on eight runs in October: five were on EMS calls assisting an ambulance, two were for vehicle accidents and one was for a structure fire of a mobile home near the Anderson propane tank on west 62 in Viola that they assisted on. On the brighter side, the department had a full house on Halloween. "We had 251 kids running around the fire station on Halloween night trick or treating," said Everett. "We had a great time."
Everett also thanked the Beta Sigma Pi's for their annual blanket donation to the station. "Beta Sigma Pi donated 20 blankets to the fire department to keep in the Haz-Mat trailers," said Everett. "We actually use a lot of blankets, and we never have to buy any. They come through and help us every year with them. They also give us stuffed animals to keep in the vehicles for kids at accidents and such for comfort. They're good people to have around."
Next up was Bill Worsham with Public Works and he reported that the water department repaired two leaks, the waste water department cleaned out 3,000 feet of line, the street department started vacuuming up leaves, fixing pot holes and hauling brush, and the parks department was busy raising the bridge at the upper end of the pond which had washed out again, along with winterizing the civic center and pool, bush-hogging and mulching leaves.
The city reviewed a bid for performing the 2009 city audit from Hughes, Welch and Milligan for a fee not to exceed $11,500. The bid was accepted by the council.
They also reviewed a bid for a new chipper, for which the city has a grant which will pay for a large part of the final cost. "We have to go ahead and purchase that piece of equipment, pay for it up front and send the invoice back in and they'll reimburse us for the 75 percent of that," said Clayton. "This is a Bandit Industries Incorporated model 150 XP 12-inch disc style brush chipper. It has an 86 hp caterpillar diesel engine. The one we have now is a 9-inch. $25,745.00 delivered is the price on that"
The mayor also announced that the city had received a letter from the legislative joint audit committee, that the city's 2008 audit was presented on Thursday Nov. 12. By the December meeting, the mayor should receive a letter from them stating if the audit was approved or not. "We've never had a problem with one yet, so I'm assuming it will be fine," said Clayton.
The mayor then went on to discuss the James Conn lawsuit against the city. "On the Conn lawsuit, we've been in negotiations with them," said Clayton. "The federal judge who this has been assigned to, has issued a stay on all actions in this lawsuit, until Mr. Conn's criminal charges are adjudicated. After his criminal proceeding are over with, then he has to file a motion to reinstate his lawsuits. It's going to cost us about $3,000 in legal fees with the state. These people have us at a disadvantage. If they want to jump up and file a frivolous lawsuit, we have to answer it and defend ourselves."
A final matter was brought up to the council by Mayor Clayton regarding the issue of a drain pipe at the Holcomb residence on 2nd street. "A few meetings back we met with Mr. Holcomb who claimed the pipe had collapsed and he said that the agreement that was made with the council that night is that we would dig it up and replace it, and we would split the costs with him," said Clayton.
Public Works Director Bill Worsham had another side to the story. "Let me tell you what's wrong with his sewer - it's full of grease," said Worsham. "His bride pours her grease down the sink, and it cools in there and solidifies and there it is. It's a blocked line full of grease. When we cleaned it out it was full of grease. We had run a camera in there and looked at it. I've got the tape and you can look at it for yourself."
Worsham also pointed out that the line in question doesn't belong to the city, but to Holcomb. "He ties into the main on the far side of the street, just like everybody else on that side of the street," said Worsham. "That's his line. I'm sorry he's on the wrong side of the street, but there's nothing wrong with his line. His bride is filling it full of grease, that's all that's wrong with it. All she has to do is pour it into a coffee can and put it in the garbage. I have talked to both of them about it. His line is in good shape. We shouldn't be fixing a private individual's line to begin with. That's a plumber's job, not our job."
It was suggested that Worsham, the mayor and several of the councilmen go to the Holcomb residence, clean out the pipe again and using the camera, show the Holcombs that their line is in good shape. "If it's a clean pipe when we get done, no breaks, no nothing, then it's a good time to get out of this business," said Worsham.
To finish up the evening, the mayor asked the councilmen and department heads to be thinking about the 2010 city budget. "We have given all of the department heads their forms to fill out and get back to me," said Clayton. "If you can think of any particular projects that you all as councilmen would be interested in, let me know, and late December, first of January Pam and I will put that together to present at the January meeting, because it has to be passed by Feb. 1."