Council begins priority review
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Jan 17, 2013 | 636 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City Council
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Department heads presented a long list of needs to the Cleveland City Council earlier this week during a strategic planning workshop. The workshop allows councilmen to set priorities for the coming fiscal year beginning July 1.

The range of topics covered everything from Inman Street redevelopment, housing programs, finances, annexation, flooding, sidewalks, Greenway, parks and recreation, public works projects and maintaining the police and fire departments.

Some topics bore quick fruit as Council members added several items to the regular agenda: to begin the process of extending the urban growth boundary; renew the request for Bradley County to participate in a flood study; continue work on Waterville Golf Course; and refurbish dugouts, restrooms and bleachers at Tinsley Park in time for softball tournaments.

Councilman Bill Estes, 2nd District, voted in favor of continued work on the municipal golf course that is being rebuilt in conjunction with widening Dalton Pike. He said the city was over a barrel. The city has progressed too far not to finish the golf course, he said.

At-Large Councilmen Richard Banks and George Poe voted against the expenditure, but the measure passed by a 5-2 margin.

Estes said the governing body should take a more balanced approach to expenditures. He agreed in 2012 with building the new swimming pool at South Cleveland Community Center that was not in the budget. He agreed with finishing the golf course, but he was not sure spending $92,000 at Tinsley met the same threshold of need.

He said the Council was presented with a list of other needs and yet is going to single out the softball fields at Tinsley Park.

Councilman Dale Hughes, 5th District, said if the softball facilities do not look nice, then the tournaments won’t return in the future.

“I think it’s pertinent that we do this now so we will have nice restrooms — and the dugouts are nonexistent,” he said. “The bleachers have nails in them that could tear people’s clothes or create a problem when they walk on them.”

Estes and 1st District Councilman Charlie McKenzie voted no.

Police Chief Wes Snyder said during the work session his biggest need is to maintain the fleet of 113 cars that includes 91 marked patrol cars, 22 unmarked administrative vehicles and seven “everyday use vehicles.”

Among the marked cars, 18 have more than 120,000 miles on them and five spare units have in excess of 175,000 miles. The “everyday use vehicles” have 150,000-plus. The chief said idling time essentially doubles the mileage on patrol cars. Cars are idled because of the computer and charging systems.

The police department requested replacement of six patrol units and three criminal investigation vehicles in fiscal year 2014. Each fully equipped patrol unit costs $41,000. Investigation vehicles are $27,000 each.

The department requested 26 digital in-car video systems to equip all cars on patrol. Seventeen units were purchased with the assistance of Byrne Grant Funds through the U.S. Department of Justice. Those funds are no longer available. The total cost of the video units is $185,000.

In addition, Snyder requested $225,000 to purchase Watson Field Reporting and E-Ticketing software. In total, the complete list of needs totals approximately $808,000.

Fire Chief Steve Haun said his department has gone five years without capital funds and “have just been holding on to get through the down economy.”

Among his needs are breathing apparatus gear, bunker gear and pre-emption equipment that changes traffic signals as emergency vehicles approach an intersection.

Haun said 2013 is the final year the NFPA 2007 apparatus will be on the market. There have been instances of the polycarbonate faceplates failing. Faceplate failure is due more to the fact other materials used in the facemasks have improved and firefighters can go into hotter situations. The cost of replacing 60 breathing apparatuses is $400,000.

“This is equipment that keeps us alive. We need it and bunker gear in the immediate near future,” he said.

The bunker gear is beyond its lifespan, it does not meet NFPA requirements and the moisture barriers can no longer be repaired. The total cost of bunker gear is $160,000.

To fully fund the pre-emption equipment, the department needs roughly $48,000 to equip the trucks and $122,400 for 19 signalized intersections within the city limits.

Engine No. 5 is another large ticket item. The 16-year-old Pierce engine can be refurbished at about one-third the price of a new engine. Refurbishment would extend the life of the engine 10 years. The cost would be in the neighborhood of $175,500.

Other needs are replacement of two inspection vehicles at $36,000 each and various other noncapital items such as positive pressure fans, rotary saws, vent saws and swift-water gear.

City Manager Janice Casteel said the Council needs to look at purchasing seven police cars every year and fill the $900,000 void in the budget left by the loss of the fire contract with Bradley County. The city will lose a total of $1.8 million over a two-year period by the time the contract fully expires June 30.

She also urged the Council to fund a capital equipment replacement program.