By Logan Watson
The Rutherford Police Department is going to be paying extra attention to the City Pool and surrounding areas for the rest of the summer.
Mayor Sandy Simpson stated that increased patrols were needed after her family and friends smelled an odor resembling marijuana smoke during a pool party.
“What’s going on at that ball court has to be addressed,” Mayor Simpson said. “They were smoking dope out there. If it continues, we will be locking the ball courts up like we do the parks. That is a family pool up there, there are kids up there. If you choose to do that, it does not need to be on school property or around children. It’s against the law in this state.”
Mayor Simpson said that if something was not done about it quickly, families will stop coming to the pool, and the criminal behavior will escalate to fights and other unseemly conduct.
“It’s just like the park, there are a few bad ones that ruin it for everybody,” Mayor Simpson said. “All that riff raff going on up there would keep me from bringing my kids there. My initial reaction was to lock the whole thing down like we do the parks, but if we can get that under control without doing that, it would be better for the people that aren’t causing a problem.”
Mayor Simpson stated that RPD officers would be patrolling the area any time they saw someone at the basketball court or the pool at night.
A citizen also noted that she could smell marijuana smoke coming from the Rachel Square Apartments.
Mayor Simpson also stated that the city is in the process of applying for a grant that would benefit the City Pool, which continues to draw families from neighboring areas.
“Newbern didn’t even open theirs up this year,” Mayor Simpson said. “We’ve had a lot of people come here from Milan.”
The grant funds would be used to make repairs. Mayor Simpson also stated that the city has purchased new chairs for the pool and is considering purchasing a refrigerator/freezer for the pool concession stand.
City Recorder Donna Stricklin informed the Board that the city has paid off a $450,000 obtained in 1983, leaving additional funds in the coffers moving forward. Stricklin also reported that $6,500 had been added to the city’s budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year to help cover the salary of the School Resource Officer.
“We definitely don’t want to lose an officer here at the school,” Mayor Simpson added.
There was also considerable discussion about the city’s budget, factoring in depreciation and water projects, most notably repairs to the water tank. The city is approved for a loan, but is hesitant to take the funds, worrying that might negatively impact their financial status in the future.
“Some of this stuff has got to roll off [the budget] before we can continue any more major projects,” Mayor Simpson said.
Stricklin noted that there is a $30,000 deficit in the water department that has to be resolved before the city could submit their budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
“We need to look at going up on commercial taps,” Mayor Simpson said. “Two-hundred and fifty dollars won’t even cover the materials.”
The Board voted to hold a Special Called Meeting on Tuesday, June 28, to consider raising the water and sewer rates in order to balance the budget. The proposed increase would raise the base rate from $14.97 to $18.00. The Board also considered doing water tank maintenance in-house and potentially saving the city roughly $20,000.