Bradford board wants more information on budget

By Crystal Burns

The Bradford Board of Aldermen moved July 1 to table the first reading of the city’s 2019-2020 fiscal year budget, with Alderman Frank Lockard asking for meetings to discuss the numbers.

“We don’t nothing about this thing,” Lockard said. “We need to have some meetings.”

Lockard said the board finance committee should get together with Mayor Ray Arnold, the department heads and Municipal Task Advisory Service (MTAS) representative Dana Deem who is helping with the budget.

At its June meeting, the board adopted a continuing appropriation and budget for the new fiscal year. Arnold said he thinks the resolution gives the board more than a month to operate on the current budget.

In his monthly report, J.D. Dethloff, director of public works, said he needs clarity too. Dethloff said through budget meetings with Deem, his department got three different numbers, “from good to bad to worse.”

“It’s got me stumped,” he said. “We’re still working on [our] budget. We’re not sure what we spent last year. Things got moved around or whatever. We’re not really clear.”

The board also voted to table discussions of the property tax rate, water and sewer rates and a letter the city received from Gibson County Mayor Tom Witherspoon regarding Economic Developer Kingsley Brock’s salary. The letter requests that Bradford contribute $1,620 for Brock. Arnold said he would request that Brock come to a board meeting to introduce himself and share his ideas for Bradford.

City recorder position – Court Clerk Jenny Dowland said in order for her to be compliant in keeping minutes of board meetings, she must be city recorder. Dowland said the appointment would be in title only. There is no pay increase or additional responsibilities.

In August 2018, the board promoted Valorie Rinks, who was the court clerk at the time, to city recorder to fill the position vacated by Melissa Workman. Workman is a Certified Municipal Financial Officer (CMFO), and Rinks agreed to begin classes for the CMFO test in 2019.

State law requires every municipality to have a CMFO on staff and gives new employees a certain amount of time to earn their certification. When Rinks resigned earlier this year, the board contracted with a CMFO at the accounting firm, Cowart Reese Sargent. Dowland said then she was not interested in the city recorder position.

In naming Dowland its city recorder, the board would continue to use the services of the Cowart Reese Sargent CMFO.

Alderman Randy Graville made a motion to appoint Dowland as acting city recorder, and Alderman Rachel Arrington seconded. Lockard questioned the appointment, saying he believed that the city recorder had to be a CMFO. Alderman Glenn McCormick said the board needed more information. He seconded Alderman Richard Hollinshead’s motion to table the discussion. The board passed the motion to table 5-0. Alderman Carol Thomas was absent.

City attorney hired – The board voted to hire Michael Hill of Flippin Collins & Hill PLLC in Milan as city attorney. His fee is $140 per hour. Hill has represented the city previously as its Tennessee Municipal League attorney.

City reports – Fire Chief Joe Alexander reported the department’s ISO number remained 4. “That’s good,” he said. “I’m happy with that.” ISO is a fire insurance rating that determines how well a local fire department can protect its community on a scale of 1-10, with one being the best and 10 the worst. The impact of the ISO score on homeowners’ insurance policies varies by insurer.

Arnold filled in for the absent Police Chief David Andrews, reporting the department received 36 calls for service and made 114 traffic stops yielding 112 citations. The manned traffic camera issued 1,299 citations.

Dethloff asked the board to purchase a used sewer camera for $25,000. He said the department has the money available in it the water/sewer depreciation fund. A new camera starts at $75,000.

Dethloff said the department currently has about 7,000 feet of sewer line that needs to be monitored. The camera helps employees identify problems, some of which can be repaired by Bradford employees.

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