As city councils are beginning to meet in person again, Centreville followed suit and met Tuesday, June 2nd, in the City Hall Council Chamber. All members were present, and the visitor chairs were spaced for social distancing.
Honoring an Officer’s Service
Mayor Terry Morton read a City Proclamation that was unanimously passed honoring recently retired Centreville Police Officer Clyde Crocker for his many years of service to the community. The Mayor then presented the proclamation to Crocker, who was in attendance.
City Financial Audit
Auditor Don Wallace presented the Council with the annual financial audit. He began with a high point, stating that there was a positive change in net assets and the City was “In the black by $49,700.” Total revenues were ~$3,271,000 with total expenses were ~$3,221,000. Total liabilities were $10,986,000. Net assets came to $4,496,000.
Wallace also said the Management page of the report that lists items that need improvement or fixing “is getting shorter,” and added, “That’s good.” He went on to say that the books are coming together and getting organized for the better, giving props to City Clerk Megan Batte for her hard work in that regard. He spoke on the necessity of numerous bank accounts while also taking steps to consolidate some of those to make accounting more efficient and easier to track.
He also noted a positive increase in water and sewer balances that hadn’t been reconciled before, but noted that because of depreciation and interest expenses the Water Board’s debt service ratio was mildly “out of whack” and while not a major or alarming issue, should be looked at more closely.
Operationally, the City saw sales tax revenues of $530,000, business license and franchise fees of $316,000, and garbage collection added another $319,000. “Those three sources basically get stuff paid. If you don’t have those you can’t pay the bills,” Wallace noted.
The highest expenses were not surprisingly the Police and Streets and Sanitation Departments. The municipal court showed $27,000 of bad debt from court costs and unpaid tickets, as well. He also pointed out that less than half of the price of a citation stays in the city, which makes the problem of collecting the fines even worse. “The court system doesn’t make money,” Wallace added.
Overall, Wallace gave Centreville high marks on the audit, saying things are steadily getting better. The Bibb Voice will have a more detailed breakdown of the audit in a future report.
“For the month of April, the numbers are down,” Chief Rodney Smith began. With fewer people moving around because of COVID, fewer citations and fewer police interactions have taken place in the last two months. Smith also addressed the ADPH count of 76 cases of COVID in Bibb, saying he had spoken with EMA Director Kirk Smith and the 76 count is a total number of cases Bibb has seen, and does not reflect a current active case count.
As things have started to open back up, the Police Department has also began to shift back to “normal policing” and is no longer attempting to handle calls over the phone, something they had attempted whenever possible during the stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders.
One full-time position has been filled, but the department still has one full-time officer position open.
Councilman Don Mack brought requests signed by residents in his district for new speed breakers to be added. Mack said he has had multiple requests within the same areas in the last weeks. One is on Fairdale, where kids playing basketball in the street (a longstanding tradition) has become dangerous because of higher speeds of traffic. Two breakers are requested there. Another new location would be just below Centreville Baptist Church on Southwest Davidson Drive, where drivers “can’t see well at the top of the hill,” Mack said. The last is on Chestnut Street, where “people are flying through.”
Several residents signed requests at each location. Four total speed breakers are needed to fulfill these requests. Matthew Thomas motioned to approve. Diane Epperson seconded. The motion to install the new speed breakers passed, with only Kenny Hicks voting no.
Returning to an issue from the previous meeting on May 19, the Council set about the plan of reviewing and prioritizing which city streets need paving and repairs first. As was requested in that previous meeting, Street and Water Superintendent Larry Oikle prepared a list of the roads most in need of repair and also collected quotes from multiple contractors for a two-inch surface paving. J.W. Kornegay was the lowest bidder, according to Oikle. The summary list here was given to all Council members for review and discussion. An excerpt of what followed can be seen in the video clip below.
After reviewing the list of the worst cases, highest trafficked, “top five” roads in need of repair along side their associated estimated costs, the Council determined that Library Street is likely the worst in need and should be completed first. Councilman Kenny Hicks said he would like to actually go look at the roads on the list himself before making a decision, which several agreed they would like to as well.
The prioritization of which should be paved first is due mainly to the limitation of funds. As seen in the list, Library Street alone will cost $57,875. According to Mayor Morton and City Clerk Megan Batte, currently the gas tax fund (which would be the source for paving funds) only contains $74,000. Without taking out a loan, there is no way the City can afford to repave all roads on the list at once.
Councilman Don Mack spoke in objection to the methodology of determining which roads should be re-paved first. “I’m not questioning the list, I’m asking you to look at the logic,” Mack said.
According to Mack, the way the League of Municipalities says it should be done – and the way Centreville has done it in the past – is to keep a log of when each road was most recently paved, and the oldest entries get repaved first. “If you keep paving the most people on the road…the most traveled road…then those people on the corner … they’re never going to get anything,” Mack added.
Councilman Matthew Thomas spoke amidst Mack’s explanation, “He’s looking for Aldine Street, and Aldine Street only. If we pave Aldine, then all of this would go away. I’m not voting on it.”
The discussion became more heated and turned full kerfuffle before Mayor Morton established that the process of how to address the paving priorities had already been voted on in the last meeting, and now it was simply up to the Council members to personally look at the streets on the list and vote next meeting as to which street or streets would be paved first.