The Crossville City Council called a special meeting to handle two items including the approval of a contract for the operation of the city's wastewater treatment plant by the city's long time contractor, Veolia.
Earlier this year the city went through the process of accepting qualifications to compare several contract operator firms for the city's wastewater treatment plant and a majority of council voted to keep Veolia, whose current contract was set to expire next month.
Councilman Jesse Kerley, who did not attend the called meeting, has tried several times at recent council meetings to slow down or redirect the process of completing the new contract with Veolia. Kerley had supported another firm for the operation contract and also had suggested that the city should go back to operating the wastewater plant using city employees. Councilman Pete Souza attended the start of the called meeting but as discussion on the Veolia contract started, he made a statement and walked out of the meeting before any vote was taken.
As the discussion opened, city manager David Rutherford explained that he had been working with Veolia on an agreement since a majority of the council approved continuing with the long-time contractor in July. Also Rutherford said he was consulting with the city's utility maintenance supervisor Billy Martin on the contract language Veolia had supplied and changes had been sent back to Veolia on areas that had created some friction over responsibilities in the past. Rutherford said Veolia had accepted those changes.
The annual cost of the contract is $1,258,188 which is $36,000 less than the city paid to Veolia for the previous fiscal year according to the city manager who added, “I recommend the council approve the contract.”
Councilman Souza asked to address the subject. “This has been a test of endurance and I know we need to move on. I was hoping and I believe the city manager was hoping this could have been concluded months ago,” said Souza.
Souza commented that he had no problems with the contract but reminded the council he'd asked for special meetings not to be called if something could be put on the regular agenda. Souza pointed out there was no audience and no participation by citizens and councilman Kerley was not present to vote on the largest contract he was aware of and he concluded saying, “For that reason I'm going to take my leave of the meeting.” Souza stood up and left the council chambers.
Mayor J.H. Graham then made a motion that the contract be approved based on the recommendation of the city manager and utility maintenance supervisor. Councilman George Marlow seconded the motion. The motion was approved with the three remaining council members voting in favor.
The only other item on the special-called meeting agenda was approval of a water line extension for a storage building complex in Genesis Village Estates in the service area of the Catoosa utility department.
Manager Rutherford said that the plat for the project has been approved by the county planning commission as well as the Crossville Regional Planning Commission. The developer is to pay for the cost of installing the new line. The city council adopted new regulations on the extension of water lines earlier this year and the council must approve the matter before it can move forward. Mr. Rutherford recommended the approval by the council.
The motion for approval was made by Mayor Graham, seconded by councilman Danny Wyatt and approved by all three council members present.