Manila City Council met in regular session Monday night discussing annexation, new fire station grant, property clean-up, hiring a part-time police officer and employee health insurance rate increase.
Following the acceptance of the minutes and budget review, City Attorney Wayne Wagner read the first reading of the annexation ordinance. The proposed annexation, west of the city limits will be part of Ward 21B. The second reading will be held at the June meeting. Wagner said the second reading will be held at the June meeting. The council can be prepared to read it twice for final passage if they choose to. The annexation will take in approximately 19 residences.
Mayor Veach updated the council on the fire station grant.
"We have discussed this a few times and I have been working on gathering the information for a Rural Development Grant," Veach said.
The amount of the grant is not yet set.
"I told you it could be a $100,000 grant," he said. "It went to a $65,000 grant and now is back up to $85,000. This will tie in with a loan and the city contributing some. The First National Bank is willing to finance a loan at 4.25 percent rate for up to 10 years. I appreciate the generous offer from First National. We should know about the grant by the end of the month. I think we have an excellent location for the new fire station and this is something the city needs. There has been some interest shown in the old building."
Veach reported on the weather radio sales to date at 512.
"We ordered 700," Veach said. "The council is to be commented for the project, especially with the crazy spring weather we are having. I still hear positive comments on the project."
The City purchased the weather radios and is allowing residents to purchase them at half price.
Veach reported on the spring cleanup saying he had not heard any problems. Manila residents have every Saturday in May to use the transfer station in Manila at no charge.
The Council voted to enter into an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration for an airport lighting grant. The grant will allow for $210,000, plus engineering costs, for an estimated total of $250,000.
Veach said he had talked to the contractor about the work. He said he is going to work with the city. The items will be purchased and stored until the boll weevil eradication spraying project is completed.
Police Chief Jackie Hill told members that two people had been cited into court for violation of the clean-up ordinance.
"I've sent a couple other notices and they are cleaning up," Hill said.
Property on Susan Street and Haywood Street were mention by council members in need of clean-up.
Attorney Wagner said the city crew could clean up the property. The owners will have the opportunity to pay for the work. If it is not paid, the city can go through the process of placing a lien on the property.
"Even if we lose, the property is still clean," Wagner said.
"It is time for action," Veach said. "I appreciate the work Jackie is doing in the clean-up effort."
Following a short executive session, council members voted unanimously to hire James Skinner as police office on a part time basis on the normal pay scale.
"James is well qualified for the job," Council member Larry "Whiz" Davis said.
Mayor Veach told the council the city had a sewer problem on East Olympia. The problem resulted in water damage at the home of Noah and Judy Shelton.
"I told them to get estimates of the damage," Veach said. "I believe we have a moral obligation to help them."
Council member Dwight Booth asked if the problem had been corrected.
"We corrected it for short term," Veach said. "Roto-Rooter found the immediate problem but the long-term problem needs to be corrected."
Veach discussed employee health insurance which is going up. Veach said the city had been informed that the city's premiums over the last six months totaled $87,037 and the claims were $530,945, with incurred unreported claims of $88,492 for a total $622,049, making a loss ratio of 714.69 percent The city has been reclassified from Class 4 to Class 7. The premiums will be going from $370.25 to $491.25 per person a month, an increase of $121 per person. The city is insured through the municipal league.
Veach has been in contact with other companies.
"Hopefully, they will look at us," Veach said. "Our fire department has 16 men now insured. No insurance company in the state will cover volunteer firefighters as a group. If we can find a company to insurance them on an individual basis we will look into the possibility. We have until the first of July. We will try to meet with a representative of Blue Cross and Blue Shield this week. It has got to the point it is unbearable. This may require a special meeting. Most of the firemen are aware we have a problem and I think they are appreciative of what we are trying to do for them."
"We have to work with our fire department and try to get them something equal," Councilman Booth said.
Mayor Veach said he would keep the council informed on his findings.
Councilman Donovan said some of the wires across the streets on Duncan are low.
"We've had a couple of 18-wheelers get tangled," she said.
Veach said he would call the telephone and cable companies to look into the problem.
Fire Chief Jerry Hitchcock addressed the council about putting a fire hydrant on Baker Street.
"We had a fire there and had to truck in the water," Hitchcock said.
He also reported the department is looking at five new candidates for the department. He will bring the names to the council soon.
The Manila City Council meets at City Hall at 6 p.m. the third Monday of each month.