Local News Articles

DUD Board Seeks Reappointment of Joe Foutch

July 3, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Joe Foutch

The DeKalb Utility District Board of Commissioners are recommending that Joe Foutch be reappointed to a new four year term.

Foutch's current term expires August 31.

By law, the DUD board must certify a list of three names in order of preference to the county mayor, who has the sole authority to make the appointment.

During its regular monthly meeting Thursday, July 2, the DUD board voted to certify a list of nominees to the county mayor to fill the position. Foutch's name was listed first followed by the names of Joe Johnson and Jimmy Herndon.

While a DUD customer may submit a name to Jon Foutch, the District General Manager for consideration on the nominee list, Foutch said no names were submitted to him.

DUD attorney Keith Blair said he would send a letter to County Mayor Tim Stribling certifying that the board is presenting a list in order of preference. "I will present an order so he can complete that and hopefully we will hear back with something by the next board meeting," said Blair.

The DUD Board is made up of five members, three from DeKalb County (Jimmy Womack, Joe Foutch, and Hugh Washer), one from Cannon (Roger Turney), and one from Smith County (Danny Bass). The terms are staggered. All terms are for four years.

Three Horses Perish in Barn Fire

July 2, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Three Horses Perish in Barn Fire (Photo by Kimberly Johnson)
Fire Destroys Barn and Horses on Game Ridge Road (Photo by Kimberly Johnson)

A fire destroyed a barn and claimed three horses Thursday morning on Game Ridge Road.

Lieutenant Brian Williams of the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department told WJLE that firefighters were called to the scene at 7:51 a.m. The owner of the barn is Billy Hendrixson but Jeffery Carter had it rented.

According to Lieutenant Williams, the cause of the fire is undetermined but it swept through the barn quickly and was well underway by the time firefighters arrived.

Three of the four horses inside the barn perished in the fire. The other horse was saved but suffered burns.

The barn and all other contents including hay and farm machinery were destroyed in the blaze.

Members of the Main Station, Short Mountain Highway Station, Blue Springs Station, and Tanker 1 responded along with DeKalb EMS and the deputies of the Sheriff's Department.

DUD Breaks Ground for Water Treatment Plant

July 2, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
DUD Manager Jon Foutch,  DUD Board members Joe Foutch, Jimmy Womack,  Chairman Roger Turney,  Danny Bass,  Hugh Washer, and Buddy Kooce Jr. of Goodwyn, Mills, Cawood, the DUD's utility engineer
Chris Hampton, USDA Rural Development Program Specialist; Paula Lovett, Director of Community Development-Grants and Loans for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; Joe Foutch, Jimmy Womack, Roger Turney, Danny Bass, Hugh Washer, Rick Hogshead of the State Revolving Fund Loan Program, and Booxie Carlton, Appalachian Regional Commission State Program Manager

After years of planning and months of legal battles with opponents including the City of Smithville who tried to stop the project, the DeKalb Utility District has begun construction on its own water treatment plant.

The DUD Board of Commissioners held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the site of the water plant on Yulanda Hills Road off Holmes Creek Road near Center Hill Lake. The event was covered exclusively by WJLE.

"The purpose of this project is to provide a long term solution to providing the DUD customers with a safe, economical source of drinking water. A second purpose is to provide the region with a backup source of drinking water," said Roger Turney, Chairman of the DUD Board of Commissioners in remarks during the brief groundbreaking ceremony.

Turney expressed his appreciation to fellow board members for their vision and to others who have helped to bring this project about including agencies providing funding. "This project would not have happened without the commitment and vision by the District’s Board. We understood the importance and impact to the District’s customers in the future. We also had the willingness to see this project through in spite of some obstacles," said Turney

"This project received low interest loans and grants from three federal and state agencies. Their participation made the project economically feasible. We would like to recognize the representatives from these agencies, USDA Rural Utilities Service, State of Tennessee, State Revolving Fund Loan, and the Appalachian Regional Council," Turney added.

The $16 million project provides for the construction of a new raw water intake structure and raw water pump station on the Holmes Creek Embayment of Center Hill Reservoir (Caney Fork River); an 18-inch diameter raw water transmission line from the raw water pump station to the new 2.0 million gallon per day water treatment plant; an 18-inch diameter finished water transmission line along Holmes Creek Road, Allen’s Ferry Road, and U.S. Highway 70; and new 8-inch diameter water distribution lines along Big Rock Road, Dry Creek Road, Game Ridge Road, Turner Road, and Walker Lane. A finished water pumping station will also be constructed to deliver water from the Snow’s Hill Water Tank to the Short Mountain Water Tank. The new water treatment plant will include clarification, mixed media filtration and backwash systems, and a 250,000 gallon clear well.

To fund this project, the DUD is receiving $5 million in loans at 2.75% interest over 38 years and $1.25 million in grants from USDA Rural Development. The utility has also been approved for $500,000 in grant funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission; three loans through the State Revolving Fund Loan programs in amounts of $2 million, $2.75 million, and $4 million at .6% interest over 20 years; and a $500,000 forgiveness (grant) from the State Revolving Fund Program.

"Every scenario we looked at it was going to be beneficial to DUD customers for us to build our own treatment plant. In the long run, we will save our customers money. Interest rates are also at an all time low and grants have been available to us. So we felt the time was right for us to proceed on with a treatment plant," Jon Foutch, DUD Manager told WJLE.

In October, 2014 the DUD awarded bids on the project. W&O Construction Company, Inc. of Livingston got the bid to build the water plant at $6.9 million. Judy Construction Company of Cynthiana, Kentucky is to perform construction on the raw water intake at $4.1 million and Hawkins and Price, LLC of Wartrace, Tennessee was awarded the bid for construction of the 18 inch Raw and Finished Water Transmission Lines at $1.8 million.

The original project cost was estimated to be $12,000,000 but it is now expected to be $16,000,000 due to a bid overrun. To cover the additional costs, the DUD requested and was approved for a $4,000,000 loan increase to the Drinking Water Fund loan. (part of the funding package as referred to above)

When the DUD asked for the loan increase, the State Revolving Fund Loan Program performed a financial review and decided a rate increase was necessary in order for the request to be approved. The DUD satisfied the requirement by making an adjustment in the minimum usage rate in February, 2015.

In January, 2015, the DUD completed a facilities plan amendment which included a new cost-effective analysis to prove that the chosen alternative of the original facilities plan (to build a water plant) was still the most cost-effective. The analysis concluded that the DUD could produce drinking water for its customers at a cost of $2.32 per 1,000 or less and is still cost-effective.

The new water plant is expected to be completed by late fall or early winter next year.

Since its beginning, the DUD has been a wholesale water customer of the City of Smithville but in 2012 the Board of Commissioners decided to pursue plans for building a water treatment plant. By producing its own supply, the DUD would not have to rely on the city for water. But plans for the project came to an abrupt halt in July of 2012 when a petition brought by the "Ratepayers of the DUD" and City of Smithville was filed before the Tennessee Utility Management Review Board (UMRB) to stop the construction of the facility. The UMRB later held a hearing in Smithville and denied the petitioners' request for relief, meaning the City lost. The petitioners then filed a petition for Judicial Review in the Chancery Court of Davidson County but lost again as the Chancellor later ruled against them, essentially clearing the way for DUD to proceed with plans for building the water plant. But the legal battle didn't end there.

In December, 2013 the Smithville Board of Aldermen and Mayor held a special board meeting to decide on a new water rate for the DUD beginning January 1, 2014 upon the expiration of the DUD's 10 year water purchase agreement with the city. At that meeting, the rate was increased from $2.05 to $5.00 per thousand gallons forcing the DUD to temporarily increase rates to its customers. The DUD then filed a Chancery Court lawsuit to contest the city's new rate and following a February 2014 hearing in Cookeville, Chancellor Ronald Thurman ordered Smithville to reduce the rate it assesses the DUD from $5.00 to $2.67 per thousand gallons, which a water study at the time found to be the city's actual cost to produce water. The $2.67 rate still remains in place today. But in April, 2014 attorneys for the city filed a counter claim in Chancery Court alleging that the DUD underpaid for water purchases from July 1, 2008 to December 31, 2013 and owes the city more than one million dollars. The case remains pending in court.

The DeKalb Utility District serves a portion of DeKalb, Cannon, Smith, and Wilson Counties.

(TOP PHOTO: DUD Manager Jon Foutch, DUD Board members Joe Foutch, Jimmy Womack, Chairman Roger Turney, Danny Bass, Hugh Washer, and Buddy Kooce Jr. of Goodwyn, Mills, Cawood, the DUD's utility engineer)

(SECOND PHOTO FROM TOP:Chris Hampton, USDA Rural Development Program Specialist; Paula Lovett, Director of Community Development-Grants and Loans for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; Joe Foutch, Jimmy Womack, Roger Turney, Danny Bass, Hugh Washer, Rick Hogshead of the State Revolving Fund Loan Program, and Booxie Carlton, Appalachian Regional Commission State Program Manager)

New Director of Schools Expected to be Selected July 16

July 1, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, Jamie Vickers, Jerry Wayne Johnson, and Interim Director Dr. Danielle Collins
Jerry Wayne Johnson, Dr. Danielle Collins, Doug Stephens, Kate Miller, Danny Parkerson, Shaun Tubbs

A new Director of Schools is expected to be named in a couple of weeks.

During a workshop Tuesday evening, the Board of Education discussed procedures in selecting a new director.

According to Board Chairman W.J. (Dub) Evins, III the school board will have another workshop on Thursday, July 9 at 5:30 p.m. followed by the regular monthly meeting at 7:00 p.m. to establish the length of the contract and other terms including the starting base salary of $85,000.

In the meantime, input will be sought from school faculty and staff and the public on questions to be asked of the three finalists during a board workshop on Tuesday, July 14. All three applicants are to be interviewed individually in one hour sessions starting at five p.m.

The School Board then plans to meet in a special session on Thursday, July 16 at 7:00 p.m. to name a new director.

The three finalists are DCHS Principal Patrick Cripps, Supervisor of Special Education Gina Arnold , and Michael James Steele, Executive Principal for Statford STEM High School. He is from Spring Hill, Tennessee

Police and Fire Fighters Receive Explosive Device Training

July 1, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Pictured: Sgt. Brad Tatrow, Detective Brandon Donnell, Capt. Steven Leffew, Smithville fire Chief Charlie Parker and EMRTC instructors.

Members of the Smithville Police and Smithville Fire Departments recently attended explosive device training at New Mexico Tech. The program is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) a division of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The training is designed for first responders who may respond to or become involved in incidents that involve explosive devices or improvised explosive devices. The training, all travel arrangements, lodging and meals were funded through FEMA and were at no cost to the City of Smithville. Members of the Algood Police Department also attended the training.

Pictured: Sgt. Brad Tatrow, Detective Brandon Donnell, Capt. Steven Leffew, Smithville fire Chief Charlie Parker and EMRTC instructors.

County Budget Committee Recommends a 16 Cent Property Tax Increase

June 30, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Members of County Budget Committee
County Budget Committee
Budget Committee Members Jack Barton, Jerry Adcock, and Larry Summers
Budget Committee Alternate Joe Johnson and Members Jimmy Midgett and Wayne Cantrell

Your property taxes will be going up this fall if the county commission adopts a recommendation by the budget committee.

In a meeting Tuesday night, members of the budget committee voted to recommend passage of a new $40.9 million budget for the 2015-16 year and a tax rate of $1.78 cents per $100 of assessed value. That's a sixteen cent increase from the current rate of $1.62.

The proposed new rate breaks down as follows:

County General Fund: 94 cents (a 12 cent increase)
General Purpose Schools: 57 cents ( a 2 cent increase)
Debt Service: 12 cents
County Highway Department: 4 cents ( a 1 cent increase)
Capital Projects Fund: 11 cents ( a 1 cent increase)

The last time the county commission raised taxes was in 2011 when a ten cent hike was imposed with five cents of the increase going to schools and the other nickel to help fund the county general budget.

Steve Bates, the county's financial advisor, said the increase is needed because county revenues in recent years have not kept pace with inflation. "There's not really any expenditures that are above last year. It's just inflation. It's just that the cost of government has increased and revenues haven't been able to keep up. We have been budgeting on a budgetary basis going into cash (fund balance) and although we haven't been expecting to go into cash that deep, we have been going into cash (using reserves). All we want to try to do is head that off so we can maintain our good fund balances that we have now," Bates told WJLE

"During 2009 and 2010 property assessments did not grow because of this housing and financial crisis so while the cost of government was growing, assessments were declining. We were actually going backwards. And to further that, we were earning 2% and 3% on fund balances. Now we're earning .2% so that's another tax cut. As recent as three years ago, the county earned $360,000. This year we have budgeted $150,000 and I just hope we get that, "Bates added.

All five members of the budget committee voted to recommend the new budget and tax rate for approval to the county commission. Members of the committee are Chairman Wayne Cantrell and Larry Summers, Jack Barton, Jimmy Midgett, and Jerry Adcock.

County Mayor Tim Stribling said copies of the proposed budget will be made available to all members of the county commission during an all-committees meeting on Tuesday, July 7 at 6:00 p.m. in the downstairs courtroom of the courthouse. As required by law, a public notice will be published on Wednesday, July 15 in the newspaper. A public hearing will then be scheduled on Monday, July 27 at 5:30 p.m. followed by the regular monthly meeting of the county commission at which time the new budget and tax rate will be considered for passage. The meeting and public hearing will be held in the downstairs courtroom of the courthouse.

Two other issues were addressed during Tuesday night's meeting. The committee voted to use $25,000 from the capital projects fund as "seed" money for future development of a new fire station in the Four Seasons community.

Meanwhile, whether the county will match the city's $75,000 allocation of funds for the development of a new animal shelter will be left up to the entire 14 member county commission. Budget committee member Jack Barton initially made a motion to include the money in the budget, but only as a one time contribution. The committee sided with Barton on a vote of 3-1-1. But later during the meeting, committee members had a change of heart and the action was rescinded. While funds for the animal shelter will not be included in the proposed budget, Barton said he will ask that the county commission give it an up or down vote as only a one time contribution after the new budget is adopted. "I feel they (DeKalb Animal Coalition) are due an answer. Since the city has put it out there on the table, I want us as a body to give them an answer up or down," said Barton. Chairman Cantrell moved that the budget and tax rate of $1.78 be adopted and to address the animal shelter issue after the budget is passed. Cantrell's motion was approved unanimously.

Local Man Wanted in Michigan

June 30, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
David Duane Brewer
Dusty Ray Mathis
Jessie Eugene Thomas
Terra Elaine Locklear
Roger Curtis Gregory
Nathaniel Dylan Tippens
Henry Burt Turner, Jr.
 Matthew Tyler Hale
John Allen (J.J.) Judkins

A DeKalb County man is expected to be sent back to Michigan where he is wanted for being a fugitive from justice.

46 year old David Duane Brewer of Corinth Church Road, Smithville is under a $200,000 bond. He made his first court appearance on Thursday, June 25 where he signed his waiver of extradition and he will be in court July 16 if Michigan authorities have not picked him up. According to Sheriff Patrick Ray, a detective ran an NCIC computer check on Brewer Wednesday, June 24 which revealed he is wanted in Livingston, Michigan where he is facing charges of larceny over $20,000 and two counts of unlawful driving away.

21 year old Dusty Ray Mathis of Lanis Road, Baxter is charged with two counts of vandalism and one count of criminal trespassing. His bond is $4,500 and he will make a court appearance on July 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, June 20 in order to gain entry to property on Austin Bottom Road, Mathis knowingly drove through a field, garden and two galvanized gates in his 1997 Dodge pickup truck causing a total of $300 in damage. Mathis did not have the owner's consent to be on the property. The case was investigated by a sheriff's department detective.

37 year old Jessie Eugene Thomas and 32 year old Terra Elaine Locklear both of Dale Ridge Road, Dowelltown are each charged with aggravated burglary and theft over $1,000. Thomas is also charged with vandalism. Bond for Thomas is $11,500. Locklear's bond is $10,000. They will make a court appearance on July 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Tuesday, June 23 Thomas and Locklear broke into a residence on Dale Ridge Road and took several tools and building materials with a total value of $1,190. During the burglary, Thomas also broke out a window valued at $425. The case was investigated by a sheriff's department detective. Thomas and Locklear were arrested on Friday, June 26.

35 year old Roger Curtis Gregory of South Main Street, Carthage is charged with leaving the scene of an accident. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court July 16. Sheriff Ray said that on April 28, Gregory was operating a 2004 Nissan Maxima east on Hickman Road at Temperance Hall when the car went off the left side of the roadway, hitting a fence and trees causing damage. After the crash, Gregory drove away from the scene without notifying the owner of the fence or the sheriff's department about the wreck. When confronted by a deputy later, Gregory admitted to being involved in an accident and that he failed to stop. Gregory was arrested on June 27.

23 year old Nathaniel Dylan Tippens of Redman Road, Smithville is charged with theft of property under $500. His bond is $3,000 and he will be in court on July 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Friday, June 26 Tippens, an inmate at the jail, took forty six Ranitidine (stomach) pills and nineteen Ibuprofen pills from an office in the annex. "Tippens was an inmate in the jail annex. Due to a plumbing problem all the annex inmates were moved into a hallway. While in the hallway, Tippens gained entry to an office by way of a pass through door. He pried open the door, got into the office and took the pills. He later admitted to taking the pills and they were returned to the correctional officers," said Sheriff Ray. In an effort to keep such a thing from happening again, extra locks and hasps have been added to the door.

32 year old Henry Burt Turner, Jr. of Liberty is charged with aggravated burglary, theft of property under $500, and violation of an order of protection. He is under a $10,000 bond and will be in court July 23. Sheriff Ray said that on Thursday, June 11 a sheriff's department deputy observed Turner and a woman together in her car on the public square in Smithville. Knowing that the woman has an order of protection against Turner, the officer approached the vehicle and spoke with the woman. After confirming that the order of protection was still active, the deputy obtained a warrant for Turner's arrest. Meanwhile, according to Sheriff Ray Turner broke into a residence on Old Sligo Road May 19 causing $900 in damage to the home and took a blue Rhino propane tank and a Stanley fubar tool valued at $100. Turner was arrested for the burglary and theft on June 28 after being in custody in Rutherford County for a separate offense. The case was investigated by a sheriff's department detective.

26 year old Matthew Tyler Hale of Upper Helton Road, Alexandria is charged with driving on a suspended license. His bond is $1,500 and he will make a court appearance July 16. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, June 28 a deputy spotted Hale operating a motor vehicle traveling north on Main Street in Liberty. He also observed Hale swap seats with a passenger while the vehicle was still in motion. Knowing that Hale had a suspended license, the officer made a traffic stop. Hale was previously cited for driving on a suspended license on June 21, 2015. His license were suspended on February 12, 2015 for failure to provide insurance.

41 year old John Allen (J.J.) Judkins is charged with burglary and theft over $500. His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court July 16. Sheriff Ray said that on May 27 Judkins entered a barn on the Old Keltonburg Road and took several 2 x 10 sheets of tin off the side of the barn and took an area of fence valued at more than $500. The case was investigated by a criminal detective of the Sheriff's Department.

One Same-Sex Marriage License Already Issued in DeKalb County

June 30, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page

One day after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that states cannot ban gay marriages, the DeKalb County Clerk's Office issued the first license to a local same sex female couple.

"On Saturday morning the first couple came into the office and filled out the application. They completed the application process and obtained the marriage license. They were married over the weekend and returned their marriage license to us on Monday," County Clerk James L (Jimmy) Poss told WJLE Tuesday.

Although only one license has been issued so far to a same sex couple, Poss said there have been other inquiries about the process for obtaining a license. "Once the ruling came down on Friday morning we got our first call and by the end of the day we had a total of three calls inquiring about same sex marriage. They were checking to see if our office was actually issuing the marriage license to same sex couples," Poss said.

While the female couple did not request his office perform the marriage ceremony, Poss said he was asked on Saturday by another individual if he performed marriages for couples. "She was inquiring about how she could actually obtain a license and get married at the same place," he said.

Poss announced upon taking office as county clerk last September that he would not perform marriage ceremonies. While state law gives county clerks the authority to marry couples, it is not mandated that they do so.

After Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling, the Tennessee Attorney General advised county clerks across the state that they may begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The University of Tennessee County Technical Advisory Service Institute for Public Service sent an email to all 95 county clerks Friday morning in the wake of the court’s historic ruling. “We have been advised by the Tennessee Attorney General that county clerks may begin issuing marriage licenses immediately under the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling,” the CTAS message said.

Poss felt he had no choice but to comply with the ruling based upon the advice he was given since the U.S. Supreme Court has the final say in determining the laws of the land. "Both CTAS and Jay West, Executive Director of the County Officials Association sent emails and told us very early on after the ruling on Friday to begin issuing marriage licenses immediately, to not hold off for any reason," said Poss.

Community Chorus to be Featured at Fiddlers Jamboree

June 30, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Community Chorus to be Featured at Fiddlers Jamboree

The Community Chorus will make a return appearance during the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree and Crafts Festival Friday evening

With the theme "What the World Needs Now is Love", the chorus will be performing a variety of patriotic songs with a special tribute to veterans, particularly disabled veterans. Again this year, adults and children alike will be singing in the chorus with some clogging as well.

"To open the program we'll have a fanfare of American patriotic music. This is always a high time with the audience participating. Hopefully by that time there will have been one thousand flags passed out in the audience. The AmVets will be helping us with that and we truly appreciate their help. And another person in town anonymously gave a thousand flags," Faye Fuqua, Chorus Director told WJLE Monday.

"A real important part of the program is recognizing and paying tribute to veterans. There may be service men who are still serving (in the crowd). This year we're going to include (in the tribute) a recognition of those who are disabled. There will be something really special coming at that time so we encourage all veterans to come out and help us celebrate you," said Fuqua.

The program begins at approximately 6 p.m. on Friday from the Jamboree stage. You can also catch a rehearsal performance on Thursday evening on the steps of city hall at around 5:30 p.m.

Aldermen Postpone Plans to Alter City Police Department Wage Scale

June 29, 2015
by: 
Dwayne Page
Smithville Mayor and Aldermen

In order to keep police salaries from reaching a level far above other city employees, Smithville Aldermen Monday night were poised to eliminate three steps of the police department's existing seven step pay scale with passage of the new 2015-16 fiscal year budget. But at the urging of Alderman and City Police Commissioner Jason Murphy, the council decided to postpone any move to revise the scale until next year. As a result, the new city budget was adopted on a 3-2 vote with the seven step wage scale remaining intact for another year. Aldermen Josh Miller and Shawn Jacobs, concerned about other aspects of the budget, voted against the spending plan.

Passage of the budget on second and final reading came during a special meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen covered exclusively by WJLE.

The idea for making changes in the police department wage plan was proposed at a city budget workshop last Tuesday, June 23 to keep pay raises on a more level playing field with other city departments. But since the workshop some police officers began raising concerns. A few of them attended Monday night's meeting.

Under the proposal, any city police officer who had exceeded the fourth step would have received a cost of living raise as provided to all other hourly employees instead of moving to the next scheduled step in the wage scale. For the new fiscal year, the cost of living increase given to all hourly city employees is two percent.

Alderman Murphy said he felt the city was moving too quickly on an issue that needs more study and that the police officers were not given sufficient notice.

"Basically what I think is we should not do anything to the pay (scale) yet but to have a plan to do something by the next budget year. It gives us more time to think about it and it gives the officers notice that their pay in the future will change," said Alderman Murphy.

"I found out about this (proposal to change wage scale) on Friday. My (employment) anniversary date is July 1 so I was expecting a raise really soon. I budgeted my personal affairs that way and found out that wasn't going to happen. My own thought is that if it could be put off just long enough for us make adjustments or to be prepared for it would be helpful," said Officer James Cornelius in addressing the Mayor and Aldermen.

"Everyone in the police department certainly understands and respects the decision making process the council is faced with. We do understand that we're in a position that something has to be done. We do respect and appreciate you working with us as much as you have. I just want to express on behalf of the police department that the intention behind the step (wage) program was to retain officers. I couldn't ask for better guys to work with and I certainly think we are headed in the right direction as far as gaining quality people and that can't be done alone and we do need everyone's help and we appreciate your support," added Captain Steven Leffew.

Janice Plemmons-Jackson, the city's financial advisor proposed freezing the police wage scale at four steps until a study could be done. "We could schedule a workshop for a committee to compare salaries to other places for all the departments and look at what officers in other places are making and see if we are in line with them or see if we need to give them another step and make an evaluation. To me that seems more logical to say that we have a problem coming along so we'll freeze the steps at four and give a two percent raise and then do a study and see if we're in line with where we need to be. Then if we need to in a few months we could pass a budget amendment and go ahead and give another step. But you have money in the bank. You could pay and spend this but the trend is that revenues are flat and have been for many years and expenses continue to climb each year," she said.

While the aldermen agreed with Plemmons-Jackson that a study should be done before next year, they did not take her advice on freezing the police wage scale at the four step level at this time.

Meanwhile, the new city budget also includes pay raises for salaried employees. The new base salary for each is as follows:

City Administrator: $61,500
Chief Financial Officer: $40,000
Police Chief: (OPEN POSITION): $58,000
Fire Chief: $43,500
Airport Manager: $39,000

The city has appropriated $45,000 toward payment to volunteer fire fighters. That's about $10,000 more than last year. The city fire department plans to implement an incentive program to pay volunteers not only for fire calls but to reward them for doing extra duties.

The new city budget totals $8-million 111-thousand 623 dollars.

The property tax rate will remain the same at .6490 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Water and sewer rates will also be unchanged. City water customers will continue to pay $5.00 per thousand gallons of usage. Rates for customers outside the city limits are $7.50 per thousand gallons. City sewer customers will continue to pay $5.00 per thousand gallons plus the flat usage rate of $3.62.

The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District will remain at $2.67 per thousand gallons.

Capital outlay projects include:

*New sanitation truck and trash containers- $350,000

*New extrication "Jaws of Life" equipment ($25,000) and a new thermal imaging camera ($10,000) for the Fire Department.

*Police Car & Unspecified -$40,000

*New Animal Shelter- $75,000.That money will only be spent if the county appropriates $75,000 to match the cost of the project

*Airport: (Mostly funded by grants):
Lighting Rehabilitation- $325,000
Fuel Farm- $350,000
Taxiway land acquisition-$135,000
Taxiway Initial Design- $150,000
Digi-WX-$100,000
Upgrade existing MX hanger door-$100,000
Unspecified-$5,000
Land acquisition- $85,000

*Water service truck (water and sewer department)- $50,000

The city also plans to spend $200,000 from the State Street Aid budget to mill and repave the downtown square area and to replace any old worn out water and sewer lines in the process. An expenditure of about $30,000 to be appropriated from the water and sewer fund.

Total general fund revenues are projected to be $4,160,050, not enough to cover total estimated expenditures of $4,856,693. The city plans to appropriate $696,643 from the general fund surplus to balance the budget. The water and sewer fund is expected to show a surplus of $8,155 by year's end with total revenues at $2,628,600 and expenditures of $2,620,445

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