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Rockford approves financial items, facility work
By Christa Jennings
Last Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Rockford Town Council saw much action, as well as discussion, with numerous items on the agenda for the hour-long meeting.
Council members Robert Smith and Karen Pemberton were unable to attend the meeting. All other members were present, as well as the town’s attorney, Derrick Blythe.
Among the 17 items on the agenda were a couple relating to town financial matters, including a new account for the cemetery and getting a debit card for the town.
Mayor Scott White discussed with the council the need to set up a new cemetery bank account to keep restoration funds separate. He mentioned that someone wanted to donate funds specifically for cemetery restoration, but said they would need an account to keep the restoration funds separate so they can be earmarked for that particular purpose.
During discussion he mentioned opening the account at First Bank specifically for cemetery restoration funds. He said that the town could transfer existing funds from the cemetery account that were previously donated for restoration costs to this new account.
Following discussion, the council unanimously approved creating a new cemetery restoration account at First Bank for those specific funds.
Also in financial matters, White mentioned that he would like to get a debit card for town use because of numerous reimbursements having to be made to employees. He said this card would be useful for purchases for the town in which a debit or credit card is required and that it would also limit employee reimbursements.
After brief discussion, the council unanimously approved having the town get a debit card through First Bank.
In non-action business regarding financial matters, White also mentioned that the town has sought and applied for numerous grant opportunities, which he hopes will continue to bring about good things for the town and keep it moving in the right direction.
It was also mentioned that the town spent approximately $19,000 in the aftermath of the storms last April. White said that the town finally got reimbursed from FEMA for those storm cleanup costs, having received about $18,000 so far with more to come.
The Town of Rockford was also a crucial part in how FEMA writes its policies and handles such matters going forward.
FEMA representatives talked with White and said that Rockford and four other towns had been denied reimbursements initially, but that because of Rockford all five have now been approved to receive those reimbursements. This came about because of Rockford continuing to push for the reimbursement and looking into it further.
Regarding town facilities, White brought up the town needing to accept bids for the repair or replacement of the roof over the concession stand portion of the Event Center. He said that it is leaking again and asked the council to consider taking bids for that roof project.
The council agreed to seek and accept bids for the roof of the concession stand area of the center.
White also mentioned that the electrical service would be turned back on at the center soon and further mentioned that he would like for the town to have a “reopening” ceremony for the senior center at the town’s summer event in June. However, he said the senior center will be open as of May 15.
Regarding the old home economics building, White said that the first bid received was too low, so the town had run the building again on GovDeals. The second bid received was for $2,150, which the town agreed seemed fair, with the town being released of all liability and the area being returned to earth and seeded once the building is demolished and removed.
Additionally, per the bid received, the work will be completed within 120 days from the start of the building removal project.
After discussion and review, the council unanimously approved accepting the bid of $2,150, with half of that money going to the Board of Education per its prior agreement.
In other business, White mentioned that Coosa Enterprises Inc. had provided a cost estimate for removing and repairing the sidewalk in front of the courthouse. After discussion, it was agreed to have the town seek additional cost estimates for the project for comparison.
The council also discussed an issue with the public road between the courthouse and Rural Real Estate along U.S. Highway 231. Specific issues that were mentioned included problems getting in and out of the road because of overgrowth, plants blocking the sidewalk and other areas, and parked vehicles blocking the road or making it difficult to drive on it.
After discussion, no action was taken, but the council mentioned looking into having attorney Blythe send a letter to address the matter.
In other business, Town Clerk Jennifer Tindall presented the council with proposals regarding new phone systems through Charter, as the council had wanted to look into cheaper options. The town’s current phone system through CenturyLink is $411 per month.
Charter offered four phone lines including phones at $178 per month for three years or $147 per month for five years with a one-time installation fee of $1,100. However, Tindall said that the police chief would not require a phone line in his office since he would require Wi-Fi.
Therefore, the town would be able to get three phone lines at Town Hall instead of four, further reducing the cost through Charter.
After discussion, the council unanimously approved obtaining new phone systems and service through Charter, as well as obtaining a mobile phone for the chief of police through AT&T’s First Net for $45 per month with unlimited data.
The council also unanimously approved participating in the back to school tax-free weekend July 16-18, which it does annually. The council therefore further approved amending the resolution to read that the town will participate in this sales tax-free weekend every year until otherwise stated.
Additionally, White said that it was time for part-time maintenance employee William Smith’s 6-month performance review. White and council members voiced that Smith is doing a “great job” and that he is getting much done for the town.
Following this performance review, the council unanimously approved White’s suggestion of giving Smith a raise of $1 per hour, making his pay $11 per hour.
Regarding a non-action item for discussion and clarification only, White also discussed the progression the town is making with business licenses. During discussion, the town talked about who is and is not required to have a business license, with White saying that he is “learning a lot” regarding business licenses for the town.
He explained that those who come into the town limits to conduct business must have a business license, including independent consultants such as Scentsy or Avon, Amazon, those cutting grass, and numerous others.
Ultimately, during discussion White said that if money is exchanged then they have to have a business license.
It was further mentioned that the town can adopt an ordinance to set an age limit or other exceptions regarding business licenses, although the state does not have age restrictions for them at the state level.
Some examples of exceptions the town mentioned, but did not yet approve, were not requiring business licenses for those 15 years old or younger and those whose yearly receipts do not exceed $1,000 in business. If approved, those exceptions would mean those individuals would not require a business license going forward.
Attorney Blythe said that he would draft a letter with information for review at the next council meeting.
In the meantime, those needing to get a business license for conducting business within the Rockford town limits can do so in person at Rockford Town Hall or online at https://rds.bizlicenseonline.com by registering and setting up an account.
First-time online users will need to click on “Sign up: Business account” and set up a username and password then click on “File application/return” to begin the process. Since this is only done once a year, it is highly recommended that those paying for their business license online write down or otherwise keep track of their username and password so that they do not have to re-register every year.
In other business, Blythe provided the council with two versions of resolutions relating to animals for the town to review. He asked the council to look over both versions and let him know what they like about them or what they want to change and that they could then take action on that resolution at the next meeting.
The council also dismissed into executive session for eight minutes to discuss the good name and character of an employee relating to maintenance changes.
The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Rockford Town Council will be held at 6 p.m. May 18.