By Jim Young
The first official meeting that included the two new members of the Crossville city council was a work session early last week where several items of upcoming city business were discussed.
The first regular meeting with the new council is set for tonight at 6 p.m. with the council meeting as the audit committee at 5:30 p.m. before the regular meeting.
Items discussed during the work session that will be discussed at tonight's meeting include the purchase of a records management system for the Crossville police department, replacement of three problem sections of sewer lines in the city and water filtration plant improvements.
The purchase of the police records system is an expensive solution to a problem that was not an expected or budgeted expense. Police records clerk Wendy Davis explained to the council that the state changed the data mandated for the department to collect and report to Nashville. Because of what Davis called the inability of the current vendor "to uphold the contract," the current software used by the department could not be updated and will have to be replaced.
Davis explained the software became obsolete in July, making the city out of compliance with state requirements, and, if the department does not provide the required data to the state, they can be ineligible for future grants used for funding parts of the department.
Davis explained the department contacted vendors and narrowed the choices down to two possible providers. Because one firm could not guarantee the data conversion from the current software, only one vendor was acceptable.
Davis said the department had discussed the possibility of a lawsuit with the city attorney against the current vendor but it was determined that such action was not feasible.
City Manager Bruce Wyatt described the city as being the victim of company sellout to another firm.
While funding for the software was not budgeted, the funds for the purchase will be taken from the city police department's drug fund. The software cost is $125,897.25, including the data conversion. In order not to completely deplete the drug fund, a down payment of $25,897.25 will be made and the balance will be financed at an interest rate of 3 percen. Payments will be made out of the drug fund on an annual basis.
The council will take up the problem and decide the matter at their meeting tonight.
City Engineer Tim Begley explained the need for replacing sections of sewer lines at three locations, including one area that has failed some 20 times in the last three years. The replacement of the sewer lines is estimated to cost $270,832, including engineering and construction.
According to Begley, some of the sections of the lines date back to the 1960s or earlier. Temporary lines will have to be installed while the main lines are replaced and some 25 percent of all city sewer travels through one of the problem sections.
Begley said he recommended the action to the council and the matter will come up during the regular December meeting.
Also briefly discussed was the improvements planned for the Holiday Hills and Meadow Park Lake filtration plants and Tenth St. drainage improvement project.
City street superintendent Joe Miller discussed planned changes for E. Adams St. Miller's department has been studying traffic in the area following changes to Lantana Rd. and attempting to find a way to improve traffic flow. Stop signs on E. Adams are proposed for removal and a change in the traffic light programing at West Avenue and Azalea Street would give priority to the West Avenue/Azalea traffic.
As the meeting neared the end, Councilman Pete Souza discussed he had requested several items to be added to the agenda for discussion. Those topics include the city charter, the airport, the Big South Fork Visitor's Center and wages for auxiliary and volunteer emergency services personnel.
In addition, Souza wants to discuss Lake Tansi water sewer proposal, but that topic will wait for a future special called meeting.
Friday's special called meeting on an incident of alleged abuse of authority by the mayor, requested by councilmen Souza and Jesse Kerley, was postponed following a death in Mayor J.H. Graham's family.
Mayor Graham issued a letter of apology midday on Friday for becoming angry with the city manager after a request by the mayor to have a city employee take some times from the mayor's office in the old city hall to his residence while they went to retrieve a file cabinet of the mayor's files on city business to be taken to the new office. City employees did not move the mayor's personal items to his house, according to the release.