New trucks will be purchased for the Manila Water Department and the Manila Police Department. The unanimous vote came following the review of state bids and a discussion on using a four-door truck as a police vehicle at the regular March City Council meeting.
Mayor Clifford Veach explained to the council the deadline for ordering vehicles through the state bid system is April 15.
"We did not purchase a police vehicle last year," Veach said.
He went on to say that Chief of Police Jackie Hill wants a Dodge 1500 full-size four-door truck. Mississippi County Sheriff's Department is also purchasing trucks to be used as police vehicles. Veach said the bid is well in line at $17,417 for the truck.
"We got a lot of criticism when we purchased the Durangos but they have proven to be the most economical vehicles we have," Veach said. "I've been very pleased with them. They have made good police vehicles."
Councilman Larry "Whiz" Davis said it is going to be hard to sell a truck to the general public.
"If we can pass the truck down and use it in other departments, that could be useful," Davis said.
Veach recommended the city purchase the truck.
"By the time we get ready for another vehicle, we will know if a truck makes a good police vehicle," Veach said.
Councilman Dwight Booth made the motion to purchase the truck with the cost not to exceed $18,500.
"When the police department is finished with it, it can be used in the street department, or where it is needed," Councilman Booth said.
The truck should be ready in 60 to 100 days.
Councilman Davis asked what the city is going to do with the old police cars.
Mayor Veach said the city has three vehicles and other items not being used and an auction will be held.
The council voted unanimously to purchase a Chevrolet Silverado through the state bid process for the water department.
"Henry (Henry Ford, water and sewer supervisor) and I have been talking and found a way to get the truck without negatively affecting the water department," Veach said.
The bid for the Chevrolet was $16,600.
Councilman Leroy Douglas made the motion to order the truck with the condition that the cost not exceed $17,000.
Councilman Dean Cherry asked about a new garbage truck.
Veach said the city has spent several thousand dollars on repairs and the truck is still running good.
"My plan was to buy one at the first of next year," Veach said.
Mayor Veach told the council he had talked to the Paragould mayor for an update on their efforts with the blackbird problem.
"He said the distress calls were helping their blackbird problem but when I talked to the man who was running the birds off, he was not as optimistic," Veach said. "I got the impression it is not a cure all. I've given you a list of equipment. If any of you are interested in trying any of these, I'll be willing to give it a try. Birds can cause disease and it can be a serious problem. I've talked to a few people and they say the best way to get rid of them is to shoot in the trees where they roost for a couple of nights."
Veach said citizens can contact the police department if they are having problems.
Attorney Wagner said if there is a place where the birds are roosting, maybe the police could shoot into the trees.
"We are willing to work with anyone," Mayor Veach said. "If someone is going to shoot they need to be under the guidance of a police officer."
Chief Hill said the people would need to call the police department and make an appointment if they plan to shoot at the birds so officers can be scheduled.
"If we are not on call, we wouldn't mind helping them out with the blackbirds," Hill said.
In other business:
*Mayor Veach expressed regrets to City Councilman Douglas in the recent loss of his mother.
*Council reviewed the budget. Mayor Veach said he didn't see any problems in any of the departments. There has been a little loss on the balance of the general fund but everything else is where it is supposed to be for the year.
*Mayor Veach announced Nancy Lewis with CitiStreet will be in Manila March 29 to meet with employees on the retirement investment plan. It should be implemented by the first of May.
*The council voted unanimously to let employees off for Good Friday.
*The council was updated on the progress of the Airport Master Plan. Mayor Veach said he has been working with McClellan Engineers. Information regarding the Master Plan has been submitted. The Master Plan has to be submitted in order to continue with the grant.
"They've done a lot of work and it should be completed by the end of the year," Veach said.
*Veach told council all of the work is complete on the water improvement project.
"The water clarity is much better than a couple of years ago," Veach said. "We are proud of that."
*Mayor Veach briefly discussed the health benefit cost increase.
"I've got one more avenue I'm looking at," Veach said. "I should have a recommendation ready soon. I've had an initial meeting with the fire chief and assistant chief. Maybe in April we will be able to act on this."