Rainsville talks budget, pay raises

The Rainsville City Council on Monday discussed the pay rate gap between its first responders and those in neighboring communities.

Councilman Rickey Byrum said in the work session there is a reason the police department personnel seems like a “revolving door.”

When he oversaw the police department in 2007, Byrum said a study was done with various nearby towns that determined the pay rates different towns offered their first responders. While Rainsville’s pay rate was brought up to match others, it’s since fallen back behind in recent years, he said.

“Right now, Collinsville is paying $16.50 an hour for patrolmen, and we’re paying around $14 and something,” Byrum said. “So, when we start to work our budget this year, we’ve got to find a way to fund our police and fire departments.”

The Rainsville Police Department is just a “training facility” for police officers, Byrum said on Monday.

“We get them trained and somebody else gets them,” he said. “We spend several dollars on them, buying their vests and all the gear that they have to have, and then they take off. You can’t blame them.”

Byrum said he wants to challenge the other councilmen to look at ways to cut spending on the next fiscal year budget to allow a competitive pay raise for first responders.

The council will decide the date for the next budget hearing at the next meeting on Sept 5.

Wastewater Treatment Plant:

The chairman of the Rainsville Sewer Board and former councilman, Fred Bobo, addressed the city council with updates on the sewer expansion project that was proposed in July 2018.

The approved plan encompassed two major lines. The first sewage line that was discussed travels from the Parker Avenue Pumping Station across George Wallace Avenue and Alabama 35, and would increase from an 8-inch line to 12-inch pipes. The second, larger line that connects to the Wastewater Treatment Plant would change from 12-inch pipes to 24-inch lines. It was approved last year for the mayor and council to proceed with applying for grants through the US Department of Agriculture to complete the project; however, Bobo took to the podium Monday to say the city was denied the grant.

Bobo said although the grant was turned down, the city was offered a loan but he did not recommend that option.

“The committees recommendation is that we turn down the loan because they did not give us the grant,” he said.

Mayor Rodger Lingerfelt said the city would continue to apply for grants through different agencies to better their chances of receiving funding for the project. The council voted to decline the loan.

The council also:

• accepted the minutes from the previous meeting on Aug. 5, 2019.

• changed the date of the next council meeting, due to Labor Day, from Tuesday, Sept. 2 to Thursday, Sept. 5 at the council chambers with workshop beginning at 4:15 p.m. and meeting at 5 p.m.

• appointed a 15-member Public Athletic Board to oversee the finalization of the transfer of the DeKalb County School Coliseum to the DeKalb County Board of Education. The board includes Chris Hampton, Sandy Goff, Joey Graham, Rodney Williams, Monk Blevins, Melisa Ledbetter, Scott Timmons, Sammy Smith, Kelly Bunch, Scott Kirk, Johnny Frazier, Steve Bowman, Eric Samples, Bubba Johnson, Skeeter Logan.

• accepted the bid for a new truck for the Wastewater Treatment Plant from the state auction at $21,473.

• approved training for the city clerk and assistant clerk in Tuscaloosa for Aug. 28 through Aug. 30.

• approved Revenue Officer Matt Crum to attend Revenue Officer Conference Oct. 2 through Oct. 4.

• approved repairs on the sewer system on Vista View Drive for $2,000.

• approved the expansion of a culvert on Mockingbird Lane from 4 feet to 5 feet at $2,200.

• approved to replace a culvert on Everett Road for $1,500, with headwall and paving to be done at a later date.

• approved renovations to the city hall drive-thru at $14,380, with only $4,000 coming from this fiscal year’s budget and the rest from next year.

• accepted the resignation of Jacob Owen from the police department.

• posted an open patrolman position for the police department.

• approved Ryan Hambrick and Taylor Casey as part-time firefighters.

• approved to place SGT Stephen Malone as the new School Resource Officer for Plainview School, Cornerstone Christian Academy and local daycares with training to be Sept. 9 at Northeast Alabama Community College.

• approved to use savings in the police department’s funds to start a Taser 60 program that will allow for upgrades to police department equipment at $19,773, with payments spanning over five years.

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