Easements topic at Manila City Council meeting
Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner said the highway department is ready to proceed with the four-lane highway starting at Olympia Ditch and going both east and west. He said the city's sewer lines have to be moved before the work can proceed.
The city does not have an easement from Dan Gamble to go across his business property, Gamble Home Furnishings, on the corner of Highway 18 and Olympia.
He recognized Mr. Gamble who was present at the meeting asking him if he wanted to address the council.
"Wendell (Councilman Poteet) is not here tonight," Gamble said. "Wendell was told we could not be here at the March 7 meeting but you went ahead with your proceedings. Wendell is not here to defend himself so we will let that be. I would like to know why you think we should give you an easement."
"Because it will be an advantage to every other citizen in our town to have a new four-lane highway and new sewer system," Mayor Wagner said. "We have cave-ins in our sewer system all over town. The new school is going to have to hook on to the sewer. First things in building is a good foundation and a sewer system. The highway department has told us they cannot proceed until we, the citizens of Manila, get our sewer system off their right of way."
Wagner pointed out the sewer rates in Manila have been among the lowest rates in the state.
"I've been talking to Wendell (Poteet), Henry Ford (water superintendent) and Joe Chipman (city employee)," Gamble said. "Henry told me they had it situated where they would not have to go across my property and now you say you have to."
Mayor Wagner said what the engineer thought would work would not.
"Your store is built on the city sewer," Mayor Wagner said.
He went on to say a manhole is needed where the Gamble sign is located.
"It will not affect your property," Mayor Wagner said.
Phillip Lindsey, a resident on Highway 18, commented he had not signed an easement for his property as was reported in The Town Crier.
"I have never signed anything," he said.
Following a discussion, Lindsey said he did give oral permission once the contractor agreed not to put a manhole in his driveway.
Mayor Wagner said, "You gave us your word, and that was good enough for me."
Councilman Dale Murphy asked Mr. Lindsey if he was happy with the way it was done. Lindsey said he was.
"Why is everyone else buying an easement except the city," Lindsey asked.
Mayor Wagner said the gas company is a private company, the electric company is a corporation, and the highway department has a tax allocated for work. If the city pays for easements they would have to raise the rates for all citizens including the residents who are paid.
"The highway department loaned us money to move the utilities," Mayor Wagner said. "They are going to hold half our street money until we have paid back the loan. We have taxed or charged citizens of Manila zero fees for the work. We borrowed the money and we did not raise your rates for this. The cost of moving the utilities is just under $1 million."
Sherry Pratt, Manila citizen who retired from the highway department, said the highway department uses existing right of ways as much as possible.
"The planning department there worked very hard on it," Pratt said.
"We do appreciate you allowing us to go across your property," Mayor Wagner said.
Gamble addressed the council again.
"Since you put it in the paper (Town Crier) making us look like the bad guys, you go ahead with your proceedings and see where it falls," Gamble said.
Gamble said he would not sign the easement.
Garry and Pat Jolliff, residents on Highway 18, informed the mayor and council they do not now or ever want sewer. They do not live in the city limits.
"We were told only water would come across our property," Mr. Jolliff said.
Jolliff said they are concerned if they sign an easement they could be forced to have sewer lines across their property in the future.
Mayor Wagner commented in the foreseeable future he could not see the city adding sewer.
The Jolliffs said they were told contractors can bore underground with water lines without digging up their property.
"We told contractors not to do anything on your property without talking to you," Mayor Wagner said. "They can bore under your driveway. They can do that with water but not with sewer. You have an easy problem."
"I have had two forms at my house," Mr. Jolliff said. "The way I read it they may can come back."
Following the discussion, Mr. Jolliff asked the city to prepare a form including their requests of a one-time easement, for water only, and the Jolliffs could pick the place to be bored.
"Draw it up and let us look at it," Mr. Jolliff said.
Mayor Wagner said they would like for everyone to work together.
Jim Thieme, landowner on Highway 18, asked if the water line comes in front of his property would he be able to utilize it.
Mayor Wagner said he could and if he decided he later wanted sewer he could come back.
A citizen asked why the city does not pay anyone for an easement.
"We have a great group of people working for the city," Mayor Wagner said. "We have police officers, firemen and workers. Any money we would have to pay for easements would take away from these people. The city council does a good job of caring for the city's money so we can pay our firemen and our employees a Christmas bonus. All the money we have to spend will have to come out of their bonuses. I don't want their job for $10 an hour."
Mayor Wagner said, "New Years day he (pointing to Henry Ford, utility superintendent) was pumping crap down the street while we were home with our families."
Gamble again said he was not interested in signing an easement and asked about other options.
"I think you have more than one option," Gamble said.
Councilman Dale Murphy asked about sharing any ideas of other options.
"If you have any suggestions maybe we can bring it up with the engineers," Murphy said.
Moving on to other business Mayor Wagner updated the council on meetings he had with FEMA on possible help the city can get to repair the sewer. He said there are five areas that have fallen in. The city might might qualify for up to 75 percent funding and the city will have to come up with the remaining balance. The total cost of sewer repairs will be $300,000 to $400,000.
"FEMA has been good to work with us," Mayor Wagner said. "The floods caused an overload of our system. Our system is old and has served us well."
Several residents were present to discuss damage they had received on their homes during the flood with sewer back up.
Mayor Wagner went on to say FEMA is addressing the city's damage. It is a different division that would have to deal with any help for private homeowners.
Mayor Wagner said the city does not have any answers right now. He did ask the residents to submit damage estimates.
One homeowner asked if there was any process available for private citizens to get started.
Mayor Wagner said he will be in contact with FEMA next week and he would check to see if there is anything available to help start the process for private homeowners.
"My council and I apologize but our sewer system has lasted a long time," Mayor Wagner said. "A representative from the state department is coming to make recommendations on our rates. We cannot continue with the present rates. We are not building up a surplus for emergencies. The recent break down on Concord Street repairs cost $40,000."
"You talked about Manila having the cheapest rates and now you are saying they are going up anyway," one resident commented.
"Our goal is to keep the rates as low as we can," Councilman Jason Baltimore said.
Resident Carl Brooks commented on raising the rates.
"Nothing stays the same," he said. "I used to work for less than I can now."
Another resident expressed his appreciation to Mayor Wagner and the council for the work they do.
In other business:
*Several council members met with architects before the meeting to discuss the senior citizen building project. City officials are looking at ways to lower the cost and still have a nice facility for the senior citizens. The proposed building location is on Dewey Street near the library.
*Mayor Wagner said persons between the ages of 17-24 interested in working for the city, for up to six months, through the Workforce Center, can contact city hall. It will pay $8 an hour. Workers cannot be going to school while working.
*Manila council meetings will change from the third Monday night to 5 p.m. the fourth Monday of each month.
*Woody Townsend with the Pilot's Association updated the council on the new hangar project. He said progress is being made. The large door should be installed in the near future and it will be ready for a walk through.
*Pratt announced the American Legion will host a Memorial Day Service at the Herman Davis Monument at 10 a.m. Monday, Memorial Day. She said they want to honor the local police officers and fire fighters as well as the veterans. Rep. Dave Wallace will be the guest speaker.