By Dewain E. Peek,
Livingston City Council held the regular monthly meeting Monday, March 1, with Aldermen John Clough and Kelly Coleman attending via Zoom and Aldermen David Langford, Chris Speck, Rex Dale, and Vice Mayor Ken Dodson attending in-person.
Mayor Curtis Hayes explained that Governor Bill Lee has extended the exemption for using electronic means for meeting attendance.
Ray Evans, speaking for the Downtown Revitalization Committee, presented projects to be funded by the rebate fund in which the city is reimbursed sales tax revenues to be used for revitalizing the downtown area.
Among those projects is reviving the “Live in Livingston” live performance series.
“As we all know, our citizens have been deprived from such events over the last 12 months,” Evans said. “But we believe that later on in the year, we’ll have the ability to resurrect such programs as we had two years ago that was so very well received by the citizens of Livingston.”
An amount not to exceed $35,000 from rebate funds was approved to be granted to the Main Street program to renew the live performance series in Central Park for the summer and fall of this year.
Evans said they are anticipating having live performances on a Saturday in each month of July, August, September, and October.
Alderman Clough, who is a physician, asked if large gatherings would be encouraged if the COVID-19 pandemic is still a concern, and Evans said concerts would be rescheduled if conditions are not improved by that time.
Purchase and installation of LED street name markers for the Court Square streets was approved in an amount not to exceed $18,000 in sales tax rebate funds.
According to Evans, the markers would be lit at night and have a shutoff that keeps them from being lit up in the daytime. They will replace the existing green street name markers and will hang on the mast arm of the traffic signal poles at the intersections around the square.
A facade grant program in the amount of $25,000 was approved. Evans said this grant could be used to improve storefronts of existing buildings.
A contract with a Nashville firm was approved to move forward with courthouse grounds renovations. Evans said the contract is for environmental and design related elements and for construction and administration.
Evans also noted that the safety rail project on North Church Street is now underway.
The City Council approved a bid for a self-service fueling station at Livingston Municipal Airport.
Airport Board Chairman Jason Duke explained that the new kiosk would include a change in the credit card reader from landline to cellular.
“Our current terminal is 10 years-old,” Duke said. “It does not read chip cards, so we’re paying a surcharge for standard scans of cards. Also, it has an issue with debit card pins.
“This is not your standard credit card reader – this has to be out in the elements. It also lets you select between jet fuel and 100 octane low-lead. It captures airplane information.”
He explained that the $18,110 low bid from Rebel Services, from Ripley, MS, would be paid through a 90% grant, with the remaining 10% split evenly between Overton County and the Town of Livingston, with each responsible for $905.34.
“We’ll recoup that in approximately three months of lower credit card fees from being able to not pay the upcharge on chip cards and debit card pins,” Duke said.
The Airport Board was also approved, with its 12 members serving a 2-year term.
Rezoning of Lee Crowder property located at the intersection of North Church Street and Bradford-Hicks Drive was approved.
Cynthia Julian Simmons was appointed to the Board of Zoning Appeals to replace Charles Maynord.
International Codes of 2018 were approved. According to Codes Inspector Kristian Mansell, the codes must be updated every seven years.
A Champion 710A grader was added to the upcoming city surplus vehicle and equipment auction that was approved last month. The auction is planned to be held in April.
Second reading approval was given for an ordinance to update wastewater regulations.
Rebecca Clayton informed the Board of Aldermen that the Hazard Mitigation Plan was approved by FEMA on February 23, which is another step in being approved for a grant to help with flooding.
A contract with Water Leak Relief was tabled until next month.
Water Leak Relief representative William T. Ridley was present to answer questions about the program he presented to the City Council last month in which lost water costs of city water customers would be paid in the event of a leak, as long as the customer was enrolled in the program.
Ridley explained that the cost would be $2.45 for each customer, which would cover $2,000 per customer, with up to two claims per year. Customers would be automatically enrolled in the program, but could opt out. The planned start date would be July 1.
The Town of Livingston has been helping customers who have an unusually large bill because of a water leak, but that costs the city approximately $50,000 per year in lost revenue, according to Mayor Hayes.
“If we pass this, if that’s what the Board sees to do, the adjustments at City Hall will no longer exist,” Mayor Hayes said.
Leak billing overlap between two months would be considered as one claim, according to Mayor Hayes.
“If they opt out, however, there will not be any relief for them,” Mayor Hayes said.
According to Ridley, a customer who has a leak must stop the leak within 10 days of discovering it to be eligible for the bill relief.
The program does not cover filling of swimming pools or leaks in a sprinkler system, according to Ridley.
Alderman Kelly Coleman suggested that instead of entering into this program, the city could charge a $1 fee to customers, which would still cover the loss and cost less for the city’s 4,844 customers.
Ridley said state law prevents cities from doing it themselves.
Alderman Coleman asked that City Attorney John Meadows look into the legality of the city imposing its own fee to cover losses.
Wishing to have more information on whether it would be legal for the city to create its own fund, Alderman Speck made a motion to table the item until next month. Alderman Dale seconded, and all aldermen voted to table the matter.
Greg Davenport, of J.R. Wauford & Co., attending via Zoom, explained a process that may be used to determine areas of leaks in the water system. Plans will be further developed and an update will be given at next month’s City Council meeting.
Kevin Flanary with U.S. Census gave an update on last year’s census, and explained that numbers are not yet available.
The meeting adjourned.