The Mendenhall Mayor and Board of Aldermen’s meeting on November 3 was the final meeting for Alderman Donnie Thomas before vacating his position as Alderman of Ward One.
Raises for the fulltime police officers with the Mendenhall Police Department have been discussed thoroughly since the city began working on the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget. Alderwoman Sandra Stein has been adamant about securing raises for fulltime officers, saying a raise helps retain good officers for the city.
During a budget workshop in September Stein suggested using the money gained from the sale of the old theater on Main Street to help facilitate raises for the fulltime officers this upcoming fiscal year. The theater sold for approximately $3,000. During the October regularly scheduled meeting the Board approved raises for all full-time police officers and the TAC Officer which were effective as of October 9.
At the November meeting, the board discussed whether to approve additional pay rate increases for fulltime officers and part-time officers. This came after the city was notified that they will receive a reimbursment for COVID expenses from MEMA.
During discussion Mayor Todd Booth pointed out that the money used to help facilitate the additional raises this year would be reimbursement money from COVID-19 expenditures. Booth said, “That is money that the city had already spent and those funds won’t be there every year.”
Stein reiterated that the police department should be a high priority of the city especially during these times. She stated that the sales tax for October was over $12,000, and she anticipates the sales tax to continue to grow. Stein said, “Some of that money should be put towards the police department. We’ve got to give our officers more money.”
In response to Stein, Booth said, “It looks like you’ve totally forgot about the city crew that keeps the city running. They’re down there trying to piece trucks together to ride in.”
Booth continued to outline his issues with spending money that would have to be replaced the following year. He said, “If you use this money for raises, you up the stakes and raise the budget in the middle of the year. We would be committing ourselves to money we don’t have.”
Robert Mangum agreed and said, “We don’t want to give them money that would have to be replaced next year, and we won’t have it. What would we do, ask the officers for the money back and lower their salaries?”
Alderman Donnie Thomas moved to table the decision until the city received the reimbursement money and then revisit the raises. The motion passed via a majority vote with Alderman Tim Gray being opposed and Robert Mangum abstaining.
The city approved advertising for the municipal depository for the 2021-2022 calendar years. Approval was also given for the mayor, Board of Aldermen, city clerk, and police chief to attend winter conferences.
The Toys for Tots program will return to Mendenhall this year. The national program is sponsored by the US Marine Corps. Its mission is to collect new, unwrapped toys for distribution as Christams gifts to less fortunate children in communities who conduct a campaign. The collection usually begins during the month of October and lasts through December.
The objective of Toys for Tots, in addition to helping the less fortunate experience the joy of Christmas, is to play an active role in the development of the nation’s most valuable resources, and to unite all members of local communities in a common cause. Community members are involved by donating toys to be distributed to children.
The board approved Toys for Tots to use the Mendenhall armory as their distribution center again this year.
In city employment decisions, Matthew Cody Moulds was employed as a part-time patrol officer with the Mendenhall Police Department. Kimberly McMichael was approved to attend dispatch training and will become a full time dispatcher for the department.
The board approved the advertisement for asphalt and paving. The bids have to specify the price per ton, labor, and asphalt. Also the quoted price must be good through September 2021.
The Mendenhall Fire Department was approved to apply for the 2020 Assistance to Firefighters Grant. The grant is sponsored by FEMA. The primary goal of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) is to meet the firefighting and emergency response needs of fire departments and non-affiliated emergency medical service organizations.
Since 2001, AFG has helped firefighters and other first responders obtain critically needed equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other resources necessary for protecting the public and emergency personnel from fire and related hazards. Assistance to Firefighters Grants are awarded to fire departments, state fire training academies and emergency medical service organizations.
The Mayor and Board of Aldermen have agreed to host an employee Christmas lunch this year. The lunch will be paid for by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen and will be catered by either Williams Good Ole Days Buffet or Smokey Mountain Grill.
Residents of Railroad Avenue have voiced concern of the condition of their street. The board acknowledged the problem and Booth said it should be a priority during the next paving project.
The board discussed purchasing a culvert for the city park that will be installed near the baseball field to assist with drainage and water flow. After heavy rainfall water pools near the concession stand at the baseball field and is beginning to cause damage. It was assessed that the majority of the water comes from the parking lot that was installed by the school. The board decided to table the issue for more research.
Alderman Donnie Thomas was listed to resign near the conclusion of this meeting. However, he declined to do so. The position of Alderman Ward One was declared vacant following a special called meeting held on November 4.