• 68°

City secures $3.2M Safe Room grant

The city will get some monetary assistance to build the FEMA 361Safe Room and the city will receive help in colleting debts afterTuesday’s board meeting.

Mayor Les Bumgarner informed aldermen that they would receive agrant for $3.2 million to build the storm shelter, which will beconstructed to hold up to 950 people for up to 36 days in the eventof a hurricane or other similar emergency situation.

“I think evey community needs one,” said Bumgarner.

The safe room will be located by the Hansel King Sportsplex and anorganizational meeting will be held next week to discuss theproject’s future.

The grant requires a 5 percent match from the city, and officialsexpect to have the project completed by early next year.

“Most of our expenses will be covered by the land it’s on andin-kind service such as water, sewage and landscaping, that kind ofthing,” said Bumgarner.

Also Tuesday, after several appearances, J.C. Kitaif, of S.C.Services and Associates, ensured most aldermen enough to earn theirapproval to begin collecting debts owed to the city in a majorityvote of 6-1.

“I think we need some help in the collection area and hopefullythey’ll provide it,” said Bumgarner.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell was the only official to oppose thecollection services.

“I don’t want to give authorization personally myself at this pointin time to revoke somebody’s (driver’s) license without us havinganother opportunity to review it, and that’s my whole point,” saidMaxwell.

However, Kitaif told the board members that the suspension oflicenses due to traffic offenses would not have anything to do withhis services or the city council.

“The suspension of licenses will come from the order of the judge,”said Kitaif.

Aldermen were concerned in the ways in which the collection servicewould work and who would have the authority in collecting thedebts.

“We have no authority in the city’s business,” said Kitaif. “We’reonly an extension of the city.”

The debt collection service would work within stipulations set bythe city and the services could be canceled at any time, with 30days allocated to clear up any outstanding transactions.

The services will come at no cost to the city; rather, the companycan charge up to 25 percent of the fee collected. The collectionagency has been in use by the county.

“The response we’ve gotten from Lincoln County is phenomenal,” saidKitaif. “The recovery rates are good.”

In other business, Solid Waste Department Manager Willie Smithappeared before aldermen to express his concerns regarding thecollection of organic waste.

Smith passed around photographs that displayed trash that wascommingled and not in an organized pile.

“We don’t have the time or manpower to separate anything,” saidSmith.

The solid waste manager was also concerned over billing regardingthe collection of waste. Smith mentioned he may quote someone oneprice and aldermen may quote a different price without knowingcollection fees have already been determined.

“We don’t have any business doing that,” said Ward One AldermanDorsey Cameron. “It’s your job.”

During aldermen reports, Cameron reminded fellow city officials toremember sirens in the future budget.

“With all the weather we had last week, I don’t know what wouldhave happened had all that weather come through Brookhaven,” saidCameron.

Currently there is no working emergency notification system inBrookhaven, and recent attempts to acquire grants for sirens havebeen unsuccessful.

Ward Six Alderman David Phillips said he would be seeking feedbackfrom residents, business owners and city officials regarding thepossibility of changing the speed limit on Industrial Park Roadfrom 30 to 35 miles per hour.

Phillips added that he thinks it is difficult for trucks tomaintain the current speed limit going through the area andtraveling down the bridge.

“I just wanted to open that up and get some input from them as wemove forward,” said Phillips.