City cuts recycling program; Outsources sanitation service

 

Several residents and business owners in the City of Tompkinsville will notice a significant different in their trash pick up this week as the recycling program has been stopped.
During the special called Commission meeting on  Nov. 21, City Commissioners approved the closing of the City’s recycling program for a six month period, beginning Dec. 1.
Commissioner Micheal Bowe (who was named to the Commission recently taking over the recycling department) noted that he had studied the department in depth to try to come up with a plan.
“It doesn’t make sense. We have the same issues with it as we do sanitation, but the numbers are even worse. We have lost over $33,000 in three months. I have spoken with a few people on taking it over but have not received answers yet.”
In the past few months the Commission has discussed the fact that the tariffs have in essence shut down the recycling market with the vendors not buying at all — or buying at greatly reduced prices.
“I recommend shutting it down. I don’t want to lose it and I do care about our carbon footprint, but we can’t keep going down,” Bowe added.
Mayor Scotty Turner noted that he had  spoken with mayors of other small cities which have temporarily stopped their recycling programs as well.
“We would have to return the grant money and we would have to remove the equipment if we made this decision permanent and the building was sold. The equipment was bought with grant money and it is ours. We would go ahead and bale and sell the recycling we have in the building,” Turner added.
Another City department which had been under scrutiny has been the sanitation.
The City had advertised for bids for the outsourcing of the City’s trash services with three bids returned.
Waste Connections of Glasgow submitted a two-year proposal for the City’s services at a rate of $20.50 per month, with the City doing the billing and collection and retaining $4 per customer.
Classic Clean submitted a bid keeping the current rate of $16.50, with the city responsible for billing and collection and the option of purchasing the city trucks and hiring their employees.
TDS submitted a  two-year proposal with the city receiving the $4 billing and collection fee at a rate of $18.50 a month.
A discussion was held on the matter with Bowe noting that he has ran the numbers for the past three months to get a smaller scope of the issue. He explained that in his opinion, the only way the city could continue doing things as they are would be to raise the rates to $18.50. This would help them to start getting ahead and make repairs to the trucks as needed. He continued, “I don’t see any way the city could proceed at the same rate and not stay in the hole.”
Jackson noted that since the bids had been opened and everyone had seen the numbers that the commission had to either accept one or keep their sanitation with the city. Bowe shared his opinion, noting, “I hate to lose control and I know the employees have lives and families but I do see that those who placed the bids are looking for employees.”
Commissioner York agreed, “It will help us get out of a lot of debt—the trash has to be picked up.” Anderson agreed saying that if it was outsourced that the city would go from losing money to collecting it and that they would make money from the salvage of their trucks.
Commissioners approved the outsourcing of sanitation and accepted the bid from TDS with Jackson noting that it would need to be put into the form of an ordinance before it became effective.
Next, department updates were given. Timmy Walden, Sanitation, reminded customers to close the lids to their trash cans as the weather is getting colder and ice in the cans adds to the weight and costs at the landfill.
Water Plant Supervisor Jonathan Shaw noted that it is the time of year again that the lake turns over and water will appear brown but that is only in color and all tests are coming back clean. This happens usually twice a year.
Police Chief Jeff Denhard noted that Officer Codie Ford has completed his first month at the academy and Officer Briley Welch will begin in Jan.
Captain Kerry Denton noted that 110, the most ever applications, had been turned in for the “Shop with a Cop” program. He said that they would be able to do over 60 of those and they would make sure the rest received a Christmas as well.
The event will begin at La Tia tomorrow, Dec. 11, at 10 a.m., with the group arriving at Walmart at approximately 11 a.m. He also noted that volunteers are needed, saying, “It is a great day to give and get a blessing.” The event has something new this year, he told the group, with Modern Woodman representative Beth Thompson partnering with the officers to send a box of food home with each child, making sure each family has Christmas dinner.
Assistant Sewer Plant Supervisor Charles Smith noted that they have had several repairs at the plant with a lot of the machines being obsolete but that they are working on replacing and fixing those issues.
Code Enforcement Officer Garret Graves noted that he has one property that has been cleaned up and he has been helping in other areas as he is needed.
Safety Chairman Eric England noted that Graves has been added to the safety commission and has taken the place of Ashley Pennington as the secretary.
City Clerk Sharon Walker noted that they had to replace a validator and were also having issues with their copier. She noted that the office has been shorthanded and that they are working on taxes as they are beginning to come in.
Commissioner’s heard concerns wishing to change the names of the streets E. Short Street and West Short Street, with the suggested new names of Opal and Tooley. Monroe County Ambulance Director Phyllis Reagan was present to add her input, noting that several times in the past, with the worst being a week prior, ambulance drivers had gotten lost trying to find these streets.
It was noted that the streets are laid out backwards to what they should be and are causing a lot of trouble. Reagan expressed concerns, “We don’t want to put anyone’s life in danger. This is causing delays, turning five-minute runs into 20 minutes runs. We do not want any unnecessary delays.”
It was pointed out that there are several streets in the city that are confusing as well, for example Sunset Ave. and Sunset Dr. and E. and W. 5th Street. Reagan noted that if two streets do not join, they do not need to be named E. and W.
The discussion was tabled until more research can be completed and an ordinance can be written. It was noted that, hopefully, only street names will change and house addresses will be left the same.
The commission also approved $3,435 in fire department compensation and $100 a meeting in compensation for commissioners.
They then discussed the incentive pay for city employees noting that it has been $150 for the past five years, since Turner took office. This is given to each of the 37 full time employees every year during the holidays.
Roy Anderson Lumber representative Tonya Anderson expressed concerns on this matter noting that she had never heard of a company given everyone an “incentive” no matter what. She said, in her opinion, considering the city’s financial issues that this should be readdressed and the amount either lowered or based on criteria such as length of time an employee has been with the city.
Shaw agreed with this noting that he has been with the city for 22 years and felt that deserved more than someone who had only been there a few months.
Mayor Scotty Turner replied to him saying that he did have other rewards for his longer time of service such as more holiday pay and paid sick time. Commissioner Micheal Bowe spoke up, “with-it being November already, the employees and their families are counting on that money.”
Turner and commissioners agreed, saying that this procedure has been in place for five years and it was expected.  The group decided to leave the incentive pay as is and readdress the matter in Jan.
The group then approved a resolution to resurface city streets in Tompkinsville after receiving the money to do so.
They approved the second reading of an ordinance regarding the occupation tax license and discussed the second reading of the payroll tax increase ordinance, which was later noted was only considered the first reading as changes has been made to the first reading and it was not legal to say it was a second reading.
Turner noted that he knew there had been a lot of discussion and concern regarding this increase. He noted that those concerns have been considered and the increase would now be ½ percent rather than the proposed 1.75%, saying this was more feasible. “I know it affects everyone in the room, especially business owners and your employees. I appreciate you all coming out and giving your input.”
Anderson addressed the group saying that as she understood the city had planned to make several cuts in other areas before resorting to raising the payroll tax. She asked if this had been done and could the specific cuts be named.
Turner replied saying that the income generated from the taxes would catch the city up on some debt, pay supplier costs in different areas and help them to replace sewer lines and other needed repairs in the city.
Tony High responded to Turner, asking, “Will this increase coupled with the promised cuts put the budget back in balance?” Turner replied, “It should. If not, it will be really close. We will have to reevaluate when we do the new budget.” He continued, “It took a while to get here and it will take a while to get out.” High nodded, “I understand things go up but budgets can be amended and that is something to keep in mind.”
Next Roy Anderson Lumber Controller Bruce Johnson addressed the commissioners noting, “Our responsibilities to the city are something we take very serious but at the same time we have to look out for our employees.” He then made the commissioners and Mayor aware that the bulk of his building is not in the city limits. He shared that he had sent emails regarding this matter to Turner, Walker and City Attorney Richard Jackson.
After investigating and looking over several maps it was discovered that the city limit line runs right through the middle of his property with the majority of his business on the county side. He shared that when the company was annexed into the city that the proper procedures required by the state, which he noted are very strict when applied to industrial properties, were not followed.
He noted that, after checking with the PVA, the Secretary of State and the City that he was correct and the bulk of his property was not in the city limits. He stated, “The only thing we have in the city limits is a piece of a sorter building and our shop. All the manufacturing is outside the limits. I am asking, are we wrong?”
Jackson replied, “To be very blunt and very brief, no you are not wrong.” He explained that since the laws were not followed that the annex was not valid.
With this, Johnson announced, “As of Dec. 1, we are putting the city on notice. We will no longer withhold taxes from our employees.” He continued noting that they would from the few who did work in the city limits.  He also asked that all taxes paid in the third and fourth quarter as well as in past years be returned.
Jackson explained that per KRS 134.590 that if a taxpayer pays certain taxes when not due, they are owed a refund but that each taxpayer has to apply within two years in writing. Anderson thanked Jackson noting that he was “hoping to get some guidance” and he would have to research the matter further. He continued noting that his employees would be owed several hundred thousand dollars if the money is recoverable.
Jackson noted that the commissioners would consider the matter based on his legal opinion. At this point Graves spoke up, “Then you need to pay county rates! Smith agreed, “You don’t want to pay city taxes but you expect city services.” Anderson replied to the men explaining that their company falls under Urban Services, which provides to rural areas. She explained that they did not ask for this but that it is provided.
Turner noted that there was an issue with the maps and more research would need to be done, such as calling the state to find out the official limits. He noted he would like to see the matter resolved in a timely matter and that he was looking into other properties in the annex and also searching for proper paperwork. “I know you want to do what’s right and we do too but we have to make sure everything is legal.”
The discussion was tabled until it is researched further.
The commission also tabled a discussion on water loss until a professional from out of town can be spoken with.
They announced that sealed bids had been requested in the Tompkinsville News for surplus items.
The group also discussed the removal of police department dispatchers as part of the cuts being made, with Police Chief Denhard and commissioners noting that they would like to keep them. Steve Hagan addressed the group noting that he agreed as other cuts have been made. “Little tweaks can mean big savings, you don’t need to take the big ax to it yet,” saying that he felt that structural changes needed to be made rather than operational ones.
Denton replied, “We understand we need to save money and we have reworked our overtime and addressed fuel use by having guys ride together. A few officers have also paid for their own uniforms out of their pocket—we have made a lot of cuts. I promise you, we are trying.”
Hagan smiled and replied, “Those are operational cuts—that is what we are talking about.”
Denhard spoke as well, noting, “We were caught off guard as most of the community was. We stand behind our guys who left. We are a family. Everyone has stepped up. We have worked so much—I’m not complaining, it is just a fact, but we have all stepped up and saved $1,000’s of dollars.”
He continued, “We don’t like to ask for what we don’t need. We understand it is needed in other areas, so we are very appreciative. We give our best.”
Denton agreed, “it feels good to hear feedback and for you all to know we’re trying.”
Commissioners then tabled a discussion on using Alliance for city tax receivables.
They also approved upgrading the contract with Toshiba to replace copiers at city hall and the police department, which includes training and set up.
The group then went into closed session.
After returning it was approved that Ricky Shirley was rehired fulltime at $12.50 an hour. It was approved for Peyton Smith to be moved to Police officer from Dispatcher, effective Jan. 1.
It was approved from Christina Scott to be moved to full time at $11 an hour.
The group accepted resignations of Quinton Coffelt effective Oct. 25, 2019 and Josh Coleman effective Nov. 22, 2019.
Approved to move Michael Mackey to supervisor of Water/Sewer department, Asa Lawhorn as heavy equipment operator at $12 an hour and Lauren Water as Billing Clerk at $9 an hour.

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