Rainsville Council holds budget workshop

City Accountant Betty Holcomb briefed the Rainsville City Council during Thursday night's budget workshop. 

The Rainsville City Council held a budget workshop Thursday night to discuss possible changes to the 2020-21 budget.

City Accountant Betty Holcomb briefed the council on the calculations she made for the budget adjustments while asking for the councils' input and recommendations.

Holcomb said by the end of the 2020 budget, the city came out about what they budgeted for the year.

“We actually had more revenues than what we had budgeted,” she said. “The majority of that would be in our gross receipts tax.”

Councilman Arlan "Monk” Blevins and Mayor Rodger Lingerfelt brought up the upgrading of the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system for the Rainsville Wastewater Treatment Plant.

According to automation.com, a site providing the latest industrial and commercial automated product information, the system is essentially a distributed computer system used by operations and management for process monitoring and automation. The SCADA communication network is spread throughout the water distribution system.

“The SCADA system is at the end of its life,” said Lingerfelt. “To get us to where we are in good shape in certain areas, what we’ve talked about is doing [upgrades] in three phases.”

He said the first phase is considered the most critical one and would cost roughly $14,000.

The council agreed the work needs to be done before issues arise with the system.

Lingerfelt also proposed implementing a pay scale for the recent grade operator positions at the wastewater treatment plant.

“We were talking and we don’t really have a pay scale for the grade operator, so we really need to fix that pay scale,” he said. “What we are talking about doing right now is running with two people, a manager and a grade two operator and going ahead and putting a pay scale in for grade one, two, three and grade four and not having an assistant manager.”

The suggested pay scale discussed is as follows: grade one operator pay at $17, grade two at $19, grade three at $21 and grade four at $23.

Lingerfelt said the pay scale would help the city keep the positions competitive with other towns.

“We’ve lost four or five good employees in the last few years going to other towns,” he said. “You gotta be at least competitive enough to keep [employees]. It gives them a little incentive to stay with us.”

Holcomb said figuring the proposed pay scale part on the general fund and leaving the assistant manager position out might lower the cost.

“The wastewater treatment plant pay scales are not going to make anything go up because of the structuring and removal of the assistant manager position,” she said.

The council also discussed creating a position and restructuring its pay scale for the Rainsville Police Department, with details discussed at an upcoming council meeting.

The council discussed budgeting for renovations to the bathroom, kitchen and two offices, it was presented with a two-phase option suggested.

Lingerfelt said the renovations would be minimal and he planned to have totals by the next council meeting.

Blevins and Rainsville Police Chief Michael Edmondson discussed with the council the opening of part-time positions to aid the department in cutting back its overtime due to COVID-19.

“With everything yall, said that would be raising the total expenditures by $45,000, believe it or not, was actually what I had placed as a suggestion,” Holcomb said.

No changes were approved during Thursday night's budget workshop. Proposed changes will be voted on at the upcoming council meeting.

Councilman Brandon Freeman was absent during Monday night's budget workshop.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 18, 2021.

– Editor’s note: Audio for this article contributed by Mountain Valley News.

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