By Jim Young
Crossville auxiliary police and volunteer firemen received a raise in pay approved by city council, an action suggested by new council member Pete Souza.
The council also revisited the city employees' benefits after some confusion over the decision made last month, but put off further discussion until the called meeting Tuesday evening on Tansi sewer.
Early in the meeting the council reelected councilman Danny Wyatt as the mayor pro-tem. In that position, Wyatt would run the meeting if the mayor temporarily relinquishes the gavel or is absent. Councilman George Marlow was appointed to a seat on the regional planning commission and councilman Jesse Kerley was appointed to a seat on the Joint Economic Development Board.
Currently the auxiliary police and volunteer firemen are paid $8.40 per hour and councilman Souza made a motion to raise their hourly rate to $10.50. Souza said those workers have not had a raise in four years and volunteer firemen pay for their own training and risk themselves for the taxpayers.
“That's just unacceptable to me,” said Souza. Based on Mr. Souza's review of the budget he thinks the raise for firemen will increase the budget between $500 and $1,000. While he didn't have numbers for the auxiliary police he said he thought the numbers would be similar. “$10.50 an hour is not much to ask for a man in uniform out there working and risking his life,” concluded Souza.
Souza's motion was seconded by Mayor J.H. Graham. Councilman Danny Wyatt said he felt the matter should have been “run by” the city manager before the council acted on it but Wyatt said he agreed with Souza and he voted in favor.
Councilman George Marlow requested better information about what would be discussed be included with the agenda so he could better prepare for the meetings. Councilman Souza said he would do better in the future. Marlow voted yes as did councilman Jesse Kerley and Mayor Graham and the motion passed unanimously.
Councilman Souza was in the audience for the November city council meeting during action taken on city employee benefits. Souza said he was not certain the council knew exactly what they were voting on and he wanted to bring the matter back up before the council.
Souza said he wanted the city benefits to remain the same as before with the exception of the proposed increase in out of pocket costs increasing from $2,000 to $2,500.
“The right thing is the right thing,” said Souza. “We asked city employees to do a lot while they've watched the city spend a lot of money. They need to know that we are looking out for their interests.” Souza concluded, “Leadership is always doing the right thing not the easy thing.”
Councilman Kerley asked that any action be put off until the called meeting so he and the council could have the information in front of them. Because the insurance change goes into effect on January 1, 2013 the council will need to take action quickly if any changes are to be made.
The item was added to the special-called meeting agenda and information provided to the council members.
Also deferred from the December meeting to the called meeting was a discussion of the Big South Fork visitor's center. A new set of bids on the project was to be opened by the county and the council will again look at the project at that time.
The council approved the purchase of a records management system for the Crossville police department as discussed at the work session. The current software used by the department to report crime statistics to the state became obsolete earlier this year when the company was sold out and no upgrades were made to update the program.
Because the purchase was not budgeted in the city's budget for the current fiscal year, the city will pay for the new software out of the police department’s drug fund. In order to not deplete the fund completely, the down-payment will be made and the balance of the cost financed with the payments made out of the drug fund as well.
The new software will keep the city compliant with the state requirements and they can maintain their eligibility for future grant funds.