Village council discusses street repair, expenses

This stretch of Brown Street was described by Councilwoman Kathy Chute as “entirely too wavy” following the paving job, after water lines had to be repaired on the street.

NEW LEXINGTON – The first New Lexington Village Council meeting in February had no citizens requesting an audience and apparently very little on the night’s agenda. After Councilman Doug Fox agreed to be on the Charter Revision Committee with Jay Conrad, Finance Director Heather Rockwell gave a brief financial report stating that she was still in the process of wrapping up last year’s budget report.

Village administrator Bo Powell reported next via a Zoom remote camera. Powell said the Newsom bridge was moving quickly toward completion. He also stated that the tree grates in the downtown area would be completed this week.

Powell told the council that he had been in talks with Nate Simons from HAPCAP concerning the $750,000 grant New Lexington is receiving to improve infrastructure. The grant is due to arrive in late April or early May according to Powell. He told Council that he and Simons have a public meeting set for sometime in March to hear opinions on the project. The meeting place will be in the village council’s meeting room. No date has been set for the meeting at this time.

New Lexington Police Chief Scott Ervin was next on the agenda. While he reported that his officers responded to the usual number of calls for January, he informed Council of two issues that could raise serious financial issues for the police department.

The first issue of concern is the likelihood that the minimum wage will be increasing to $15 an hour. Ervin says that would cause an increase of $27,000 for the police department. That figure paled when he stated the consolidation to the MARKS radio system would cost the Village $112,000.

With the New Lexington Fire Department faced with the same situation, Ervin estimated that the final cost could be as much as $350,000. Fire Chief Jim Fain agreed with Ervin’s estimate.

Chief Fain delivered his report following Chief Ervin’s report. Fain reported 167 runs in January. He said that the transport rate was 52 percent, which he cited as a positive financial factor for the fire department. He also stated that he was very happy with MediCount services.

The next issue brought to Council’s attention was Kathy Chute’s concern with the poor paving job done on Brown Street near the Post Office following work to repair water lines. Her comments sent the Council into a discussion as to why the street is “way too wavy” as Chute described it.

Jim Welsh said that unless paving crews grind the existing pavement, the new pavement would not last. Deciding what should be done about Brown Street and/or who was responsible for correcting it was not determined. The discussion went around the council table like a lost taxicab until Mayor Trent Thompson said, “We’re not construction people, let’s move on.”

Thompson asked Bo Powell about recent hires in the street department. Powell reported that Josh Holcomb and Rex Howdyshell were great additions to the street crew. He called Howdyshell a “mechanic wizard” and said the Village was fortunate to hire Holcomb “before the county engineer did.”

In further action, Council passed a motion to award Bobby Heavener a contract for water, sewer, and storm sewer work totaling $100,000. They also passed a motion to make a separate fund for the Storm Sewer account that will go into effect as of Jan. 1, 2021.

Kathy Chute made a finance committee report that covered fire hydrant repairs, the repair of the water treatment road, discussing the fate of a property on Elizabeth Street with Jan Baughman, a cleanup effort on State Street, and an open purchase order clause for the Public Service Department.

Her proposal for the Public Service Department to have an open purchase order kicked off a lengthy discussion on this matter. Mayor Thompson reminded Council that this issue had been previously discussed for all the Village departments and no action had been taken on the matter at that time. Chute replied she could not remember the discussion, but Jim Welsh confirmed that Council had covered this topic in a previous meeting.

Council felt that small purchases that had to be made based on the situation when regular channels could not be followed would be the best policy concerning open purchase orders.

Another matter that received attention was whether or not the Village should hire a full-time IT person instead of continuing to rely on Rockwell for assistance on these matters.

Sue Boyle reported that the Parks Committee had decided not to hold their April fundraiser, but then changed their mind on the matter. For now the fundraiser is set to take place in April at the Eagles. Boyle also described the “blessing box” that will contain non-perishable free food items.

At 8 p.m., Kathy Chute requested Council meet in executive session. Council returned at 8:15 p.m. and reported no action was taken in executive session. However, a motion was made to add two council members to the interview process when department heads are hiring new employees. The motion passed unanimously.

Council adjourned at 8:21 p.m.

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