By Jim Young
The Crossville City Council approved acceptance of a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for $500,000 to make improvements to the city's wastewater collection system.
The funds will be used along with $176,000 of matching city funds to allow the city to expand and upgrade the Little Obed River pump station and adjoining wastewater collection lines. Around 30 percent of all the the city wastewater flows through that pump station and there have been some pollution problem in the Little Obed River and those repairs will help eliminate the problems.
The city council approved accepting the grant along with contracts with Community Development Partners to administer the grant and GRW Engineers for engineering services.
The council also approved moving forward with applying for a grant to prepare an airport layout plan update. The grant would require a 10 percent local match with the balance of 90 percent funded by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The update is needed because of the addition of new property purchased for the airport and another corporate hanger added to the airport.
City manager David Rutherford explained that the process will take approximately five years to complete. The total cost of the plan is $90,000.
Councilman Pete Souza requested that as soon as the application is done and there is a layout of the airport available he would like to have a work session on the airport.
The council took up the mater of the proposed sale of biosolids generated by the city's wastewater treatment plant. This has been brought to the council by Councilman Souza who expressed concern over the city giving away the product that can be used as fertilizer. Souza has proposed that the product be sold to the highest bidder as a way to gain revenue.
During the discussion it was discovered that the city manager had looked into the possible sale and found that no other city in Tennessee is currently selling products like Crossville's though Nashville is selling a pelleted form and subsidizing it with taxpayer funds.
Souza had prepared a resolution and made a motion to approve his resolution calling for the wastewater plant to immediately stop giving away the biosolid and to put out a request for bids on the purchase of biosolids for the calendar year of 2014. The motion was seconded by councilman Jesse Kerley.
Councilman Souza said other cities were selling bio-waste and he felt the city had given away hundreds of thousands of dollars of this resource that he feels should be sold.
Some other concerns discussed by the council was if there was any liability to the city should the product be used improperly or if the city had more liability for selling the product instead of giving it away.
Councilman Danny Wyatt said he was not certain he was ready to vote on the change. He added that he had learned a lot about the topic but was not sure he knew all he needed to know yet.
Councilman Kerley said he felt that it was the duty of the council to try and get money out of the product if it was possible. He said otherwise he felt anyone should be able to get some of the bio-solid, not just the two individuals that have been receiving the bio-solids up to now.
The vote on Souza's motion failed with Souza and Kerly in favor. Mayor Graham and Councilmen Wyatt and George Marlow voted against.
The council approved the new employee health insurance bid with a 9.5 percent increase in costs. The benefits to the employees will not change for the current year though raising the out of pocket cap was discussed as one way to reduce costs slightly.
City manager Rutherford recommended to the council that the bid on health insurance be accepted. No budget amendment will be needed but additional funds will need to be budgeted for the next fiscal year.
The council also approved bids to provide phone, data and video service to the city. The contract is for a period of three years. Vol First will provide data and video while Frontier will provide telephone services.