By Jim Young
In the midst of a hectic time for the Crossville City Council, they unanimously agreed at the January council meeting that new City Manager David Rutherford is doing an excellent job and, after six months on the job, awarded him a $10,000 a year raise.
Each member of the council gave Rutherford an evaluation that Mayor J.H. Graham III described as having “excellent ratings.” Graham then moved to extend Rutherford's contract, raise his salary to $95,000 per year, including the first reading of a necessary budget amendment, and to say, "Job well done."
Councilman Pete Souza supported the motion and, though saying he was uncomfortable doing it in front of the public, said, “Mr. Rutherford has exceeded my expectations and everybody knows how cynical I am. He has instilled trust and confidence in his office and I believe that the employees are now not only well led, but well looked after. Well done, sir.”
The remaining council members all agreed with the comments previously made and the motion passed unanimously.
The council also agreed to move forward with a special city census at a cost of $39,750. The city last did a special census in 2006. Adding additional population to the census count increases the amount of funding the city gets from the state and shared tax revenue. The city expects to add $350,000 to $665,000 in revenue over the seven-year period until the next US Census in 2020.
Graham moved to go forward with a special city census and first reading of a budget amendment to pay for it and the motion was supported by Councilman Jesse Kerley. The motion was unanimously approved.
Councilman Danny Wyatt asked for an item to be on the agenda concerning loss of revenue for downtown businesses affected by the upcoming downtown improvements. Wyatt said he felt the city manager and the mayor should explain to the 20 or so downtown businesses that will be affected what he called “the facts of life.” Wyatt said he didn't know if the businesses knew what was going to happen downtown.
“It's not a matter of losing revenue,” explained Wyatt, “it's a matter of how much. It's gonna happen because it's going to be a war zone for two years.”
Wyatt said a meeting should be set up between the city and downtown businesses so they would understand what is going to take place. “They need to be told this is not going to be rosy. It's going to be a tough situation,” Wyatt concluded.
Graham said Rutherford has been attending the downtown task force meetings each Friday and one of the goals of that group is to keep the business informed about the project and details of where the work will be and other details they'll need to know.
Rutherford said the Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce is helping to coordinate the businesses that need delivery and how those can be maintained. In addition, Rutherford reminded the council that the contractor has agreed to keep one lane open at all times.
Neither Rutherford or City Attorney Ken Chadwell saw any liability to the city for revenue loss of downtown businesses, but both encouraged the city to continue their work to maintain communication with businesses on the project.
Another item by Wyatt concerned recovering the city's 2013 legal expenses of $19,300 related to the city's defense of the possible wetlands connected to the city's soccer complex. Wyatt moved that the city request reimbursement based on the hold harmless clause in the purchase contract and the second came from Souza.
Chadwell recommended the communication concerning the funds be communicated from the city's attorney to the seller's attorney. Chadwell said he expected it to take some time to work out the details. The motion passed unanimously.
The council unanimously approved an extension of the contract with Crossville Areo as the fixed base operator of Crossville Memorial Airport.
Council reappointed Clarence Coffey to an additional seven-year term to the lake commission.
No decision was made on a proposal by Souza concerning dropping health insurance for city council members and using that money to fund an emergency assistance welfare fund for city employees and family. The discussion indicated other council members needed more information about the proposal before they were comfortable making a decision.
Fifth-grade Martin Elementary School student Audrey Fairman was recognized as the student of the month for January and the character trait of honesty.