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By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
During its November meeting last Monday evening, the Rockford Utilities Board approved three items and discussed other matters during the approximately 30-minute meeting.
As it does each year, the board’s agenda included “holiday bonus,” which is now called a one-time pay raise for employees. There was no discussion this year, with Board Member J.T. McDonald making a motion to give employees a one-time pay raise of $200.
The board unanimously approved the motion, with Board Member Ronnie Joiner being absent from the meeting. The one-time pay raise will be given to the board’s five employees, making a total of $1,000.
Regarding other action items, McDonald brought up to the board that they had previously gone from $20 pay to $70 pay for board members.
He stated that he would like the board to entertain the idea of increasing the pay for board members to $100 per meeting, with the board generally meeting once per month, but occasionally holding special called meetings.
McDonald proceeded to put that into the form of a motion, and the board unanimously approved increasing board member pay to $100 per meeting. Board Chair Ronnie Brown noted that Board Member Ronnie Joiner does not accept pay for his position and as such does not get paid per meeting.
In other action items, Robert Smith came before the board on behalf of Rockford Baptist Church and its outreach Manna Ministries. He mentioned that they had received their utilities bill for Manna Ministries, which is located in the stone building next door to the church, and that they were surprised by the amount.
He explained that the bill had Manna Ministries rated as commercial and that since the outreach program does not have any revenue coming in they wanted to see about changing it to residential instead.
Smith further stated that if the board could not change it since it only has commercial and residential that they would understand, but that they wanted to at least ask, adding that “business is business.”
During discussion Chair Brown asked about the price difference between residential and commercial, with it being stated that there is about a $10 difference between the two. During discussion the board also mentioned that the office space of that building had always been rated commercial.
Following discussion, the board unanimously approved leaving it as it is, with the bill remaining at a commercial rate for the facility.
Also during last week’s meeting, the board heard from board attorney Nancy Kirby regarding any updates about the new sewer plant.
She stated that engineer Ed Morris is still waiting on drawings from the electrical engineer, which at the time he had said were expected by the end of November. Kirby said she reminded Morris that was what was also said the previous month, but she stated they are waiting on those in order to move forward.
She added that it has already been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and that the next step will be advertising for bids and seeing if any come within the budget.
Kirby said that if they did get the drawings by the end of November then they would be looking into January by the time they advertise 21 days and get bids.
Chair Brown also asked Kirby about her attending the previous Town Council meeting. She stated that she did and provided the board with a brief update regarding their attendance to speak to the council about potentially revising a recently approved ordinance, as reported in the October 20 edition.
Kirby said that Emily Riddle with her law office spoke to the council and presented the request on behalf of the board.
She added that the council did not discuss it at the time and instead said that it would take the matter under advisement. As such she said that she was waiting to hear back from them regarding the ordinance and requested revisions, which at last Monday’s meeting she said she thought would be the next evening when the Town Council met.
However, the matter was not on the agenda and was not discussed or mentioned during last week’s Town Council meeting.
In other business, Utilities Clerk Deanna Lesley brought before the board the possibility of changing the January and February meeting dates.
During brief discussion she explained that the January meeting date falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and that the February meeting date falls on Presidents Day.
She said that because of that she wanted to see if the board would like to change those meeting dates. The board briefly discussed it and agreed to leave the January and February meeting dates as they are.
The next regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Rockford Utilities Board will be held at 6 p.m. December 18.