Board approves Brignall fire loop bid

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The city board approved a bid by GreenbriarDigging Service to complete the Brignall fire loop project at itsTuesday meeting.

    The Brignall area was among the county areas annexed by the city in2007, but still has no water hydrants available for use by fireservices. The Greenbriar bid of $452,099 would remedy that.

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    The bid accepted by the city also includes approximately $70,000 toprovide water services to Weed Lane, located off of Country ClubRoad but near Brignall Road.

    “It is cheaper to do Weed Lane while we already have people outthere,” said Mayor Les Bumgarner.

    Public Works Director Steve Morton explained that Weed Laneresidents do not currently have access to city water services andare using well water.

    At least one resident, however, has had significant problems withher well, Moreton said.

    Moreton said the Greenbriar bid amount, minus the amount needed forthe Weed Lane project, is covered by a 50/50 grant in which thecity will only pay half of the cost. He is optimistic the moneyneeded to provide water services to Weed Lane will qualify for the50/50 grant as well.

    Confidential surveys will have to be done to ascertain the incomelevels of Weed Lane residents, which will determine whether itqualifies for the grant.

    “We have a good option, and that is the project came in cheapenough to without a grant,” Moreton said “And we have a greatoption, which is that a grant might apply.”

    The Lincoln County Rural Water Association services the Brignallarea, and residents do not rely on well water.

    Following a lengthy closed discussion, the city board also approvedan $8,000 pay raise for the assistant water superintendent,bringing the total salary of that position up to $43,430.

    The board agenda for Tuesday night’s city board meeting indicatedthat Keith Lewis, current assistant water superintendent, wouldresign effective Sept. 23.

    During the city board meeting, the aldermen moved discussion ofLewis’ resignation to an executive session, which is closed to thepublic. Afterwards, the board voted to increase Lewis’ salary andhis resignation was withdrawn.

    The raise was approved by a 3-2 vote. Ward Five Aldermen D.W.Maxwell, Ward Six Aldermen David Phillips and Alderman at LargeKaren Sullivan all voted in the affirmative. Ward One AldermanDorsey Cameron and Ward Two Aldermen Terry Bates voted against themotion made by Maxwell.

    Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes was absent from the meeting andWard Three Alderman Mary Wilson left Tuesday’s meeting before thevote took place.

    The vote has the effect of amending the 2011-12 budget, which waspassed Sept. 6, to include the higher salary for assistant watersuperintendent.

    Phillips, who opposed across the board pay raises during budgetdiscussion, explained his approval of Lewis’ raise after themeeting.

    “We have a key person with an operator’s license, four yearsexperience and in training for further promotion,” Phillips said.”The pay was out of line for a highly technical field.”

    After the meeting Lewis explained the requirements of theoperator’s license he has, which is required for the post he holds.To hold the license, someone must work under a water operator fortwo years and take an operator’s test, which is held three times ayear.

    The test follows four days of class and, according to Lewis, has anapproximately 75 percent failure rate.

    Cameron said supporters of the raise contended that Lewis would bevery difficult to replace, but Cameron expressed skepticism of thatnotion.

    “There’s people all over need jobs,” he said.

    Cameron also said he did not like the tone set by the raise.

    “I don’t dispute that he is an asset to the city,” Cameron said.”But to talk about giving him a rise doesn’t help the morale of theother employees. All our employees are valuable to the city.”

    Cameron also objected to the discussion of Lewis’ salary occurringin a closed executive session. He said the discussion should haveoccurred in open session.

    Cameron further said the board discussed a $10,000 raise, before itdecided on an $8,000 raise.