​Monteagle Council Grapples with Purchasing Protocol

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Jan. 31 meeting of the Monteagle Town Council, two recent infrastructure expenses prompted heated discussion about the proper protocol for the two instances in question: purchase of a used dump truck for use by the Utility Department, cost $17,000; and installing additional lighting at the temporary fire hall, cost $8,000.
Vice Mayor Jessica Blalock questioned the way the dump truck purchase was handled. “In the future I won’t do votes over the phone, and I won’t sign checks for the Town of Monteagle.” Blalock recently attended training with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) agency of the University of Tennessee. According to MTAS, both of these actions were illegal, Blalock insisted.
On the advice of city accountant Mark Allen with Allen, McGee and Associates, City Recorder Debbie Taylor contacted Blalock and the other aldermen asking their preference regarding the Utility Department’s request to purchase a used dump truck, quoting prices on two vehicles. Blalock later signed a check for purchase of a truck.
Explaining his advice to Taylor to contact the aldermen, Allen said in emergency situations “the mayor had authority to act” and the council was permitted to discuss the issue “over the phone.”
Utility Department manager John Condra said not having a dump truck constituted an emergency in the event of a water main break.
Blalock countered, “MTAS said a dump truck is not an emergency.” Blalock suggested the council should have held a special called meeting.
Allen pointed out that public notice should be given for special called meetings, which would result in a time delay. Allen cited the MTAS definition of an emergency as “putting life or property in danger. It’s the mayor’s call based on discussion with department heads. What I suggested Taylor do was to get the alderman informed. A vote wasn’t required.”
In a letter to Mayor Sampley following the meeting, city attorney Harvey Cameron concurred, “The decision is entirely up to you whether an emergency exists. In fact, there was no necessity for Debbie to call any of the aldermen.”
The additional lighting in the temporary fire hall was authorized by Fire Chief Mike Holmes. A contractor doing repairs on the restroom facilities had stressed the need for more lighting.
Alderman Kenneth Gipson questioned Holmes about the $8,000 expense.
“The lights cost a lot more than we thought they would,” conceded Holmes, who failed to get three quotes for the project as required by Monteagle city code when the estimated cost exceeds $1,500.
“Shouldn’t the council have voted on authorizing the lighting expense?” Gipson asked.
“The fire department makes decisions on how to spend its budget just like the police and other departments,” Sampley said.
In other business, Holmes requested declaring engine number three surplus and listing it for sale on govdeals, a government surplus auction website. The 1981 model engine had pump and tank leaks, Holmes said. He estimated the sale value at $8,000-$15,000.
The council approved declaring the engine surplus along with an out-of-service police car and two out-of-service utility department vehicles.
The council also approved Holmes’ request to apply for a firefighters grant for up to $30,000 to purchase a new engine. If the grant is received, the city would be required to contribute 5 percent in matching funds. Holmes described the federal grant program as highly competitive. “Last year we made it to the final round.”
Codes enforcement officer Earle Geary advised the council of the need to upgrade from the 2009 building codes manual to the 2012 manual. Law required the building codes a municipality operated under be within seven years of the most recent publication. “The state operates under 2012 codes,” Geary said. He estimated the cost of new manuals at $600. The council approved authorizing attorney Cameron to draft the necessary ordinance, which must be approved on two consecutive readings.
Sampley provided an overview of bids for asbestos removal in the portion of the Monteagle Annex undergoing demolition.
“The structure has 950 square feet of popcorn ceiling,” Sampley said. “The glue attaching the tile needs to be removed.”
The council approved retaining the low bidder Infinity Group for the job, cost $6,938.
The council meets next on Feb. 26.
2023 June
2023 May
2023 April
2023 March
2023 February
2023 January
2022 December
2022 November
2022 October
2022 September
2022 August
2022 July
2022 June
2022 May
2022 April
2022 March
2022 February
2022 January
2021 December
2021 November
2021 October
2021 September
2021 August
2021 July
2021 June
2021 May
2021 April
2021 March
2021 February
2021 January
2020 December
2020 November
2020 October
2020 September
2020 August
2020 July
2020 June
2020 May
2020 April
2020 March
2020 February
2020 January
2019 December
2019 November
2019 October
2019 September
2019 August
2019 July
2019 June
2019 May
2019 April
2019 March
2019 February
2019 January
2018 December
2018 November
2018 October
2018 September
2018 August
2018 July
2018 June
2018 May
2018 April
2018 March
2018 February
2018 January
2017 December
2017 November
2017 October
2017 September
2017 August
2017 July
2017 June
2017 May
2017 April
2017 March
2017 February
2017 January
2016 December
2016 November
2016 October
2016 September
2016 August
2016 July
2016 June
2016 May
2016 April
2016 March
2016 February
2016 January
2015 December
2015 November
2015 October
2015 September
2015 August
2015 July
2015 June
2015 May
2015 April
2015 March
2015 February
2015 January
2014 December
2014 November
2014 October
2014 September
2014 August
2014 July
2014 June
2014 May
2014 April
2014 March
2014 February
2014 January
2013 December
2013 November
2013 October
2013 September
2013 August
2013 July
2013 June
2013 May
2013 April
2013 March
2013 February
2013 January
2012 December
2012 November
2012 October
2012 September
2012 August
2012 July
2012 June
2012 May
2012 April
2012 March
2012 February
2012 January
2011 December
2011 November
2011 October
2011 September
2011 August
2011 July
2011 June
2011 May
2011 April
2011 March
2011 February
2011 January
2010 December
2010 November
2010 October
2010 September
2010 August
2010 July
2010 June
2010 May