By Jan White
CROCKETT – The Crockett City Council meeting opened with congratulations to Crockett High School FFA members, who won State Recognition awards for their leadership and participation in recent Future Farmers of America competitions.
Mayor Ianthia Fisher presented the teams with Certificates of Excellence, recognizing the students for their accomplishments. Each team took a few minutes to tell attendees about the projects which won them their awards.
From there, the meeting moved on to their regular business session. The first item of business was to consider and approve the increase in utility rates. City Administrator John Angerstein explained that this was not an increase in base rates, but the increase will be on the consumption side, raising the cost to $0.06 per 100 gallons of water used.
“This is the first time we’ve seen our water rates increase since 2016,” stated Angerstein. “Due to some of the construction that city has been able to take on, and the employee raises that were in the budget, this is enough to cover that.”
Mike Marsh spoke out to address criticism aimed at Angerstein during the public comments portion of the meeting. “I’d like to say that our City Administrator did NOT [instigate the increase in rates]. The water district went up on us. So we had to pass it on. We’re not getting any “extra” here. It’s just the amount they went up on us. So just to clarify that the City Administrator had nothing to do with this.”
The increase in the water district utility rate was approved.
Business moved on to amend some of the ordinances in the garbage and trash collection code, including the requirement that all loose refuse and kitchen garbage be placed inside garbage bags.
Angerstein said that if a residence has garbage that repeatedly extends to outside bags, Piney Woods Sanitation has asked that they upgrade and get additional carts, but when occasional extenuating circumstances like holidays generate more trash, the sanitation department will allow up to three extra bags outside the poly cart. Angerstein also said that initially, the department said they would pick up two large items once a month for free.
Due to the number of residents, the department has now agreed to pick up two large items for free on a weekly basis. “Their only request,” said Angerstein, “is that you call the day before, so they will know in advance that large items need to be picked up on their route.” Angerstein also said that the sanitation department would not pick up items on one’s property, but those items have to be curbside.
Council was asked to vote on a requested increase of 6% from the Piney Woods Sanitation Department. There was some dissent regarding the increase, but as Gene Caldwell pointed out, “You have to also take into consideration that through the tornadoes and all that stuff, they donated, I don’t know how many dumpsters, and hauled off and cleaned up a considerable amount of area throughout all of our precincts. And that was a great cost on their behalf that we didn’t have to take care of.” Marquita Beasley also reminded the group that during a previous budget meeting, the concerns over the increase had already been discussed, and the 6% had already been included in the 2023 budget. The council then approved the increase.
The next item of business was the approval of a lease agreement with South Pine Animal Hospital. The city had purchased the property, but due to construction on their new facility, the hospital asked that they be able to remain on the property and lease it until the new facility is completed and they can relocate. Angerstein stated that the animal hospital would eventually be used as an animal shelter. “We look forward to being able to finally address our animal shelter issue.”
Fisher said “I think it’s a good thing that we’ve gone from conversation to actually having a building. We’re in business now, give or take a little time in between. I’m excited about it.”
The council was then asked to review the sealed proposals to perform the forensic audit of the Crockett Economic & Industrial Development Corporation from qualified Certified Public Accountant firms and approve the selection of the firm.
After reviewing the packets, a motion was made by Marquita Beasley to accept the bid from Weaver. The board voted unanimously to approve the motion.
The final agenda item was to authorize Mayor Fisher to act on behalf of the city in matters related to the contract with the firm performing the forensic audit and to approve the recommendation that both the City of Crockett and the CEIDC share the cost of the audit.