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City Commission: First budget draft approved

Nancy Taylor: Greene Publishing, Inc.

The Madison City Commissioners held their September meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at Madison City Hall. Shortly after the start of the meeting (following the approval of the consent agenda), City Manager Tim Bennett took a conference call from Danny Collins, a representative from Duke Energy, and placed it on speakerphone, so that the commissioners could hear the latest update on power restoration.

Collins reported on the status of the company’s entire customer base (which includes Madison). As of 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 11, 1.2 million customers’ power had been restored out of their entire customer base of 1.8 million.

Collins further stated that 300 Duke Energy employees from the Midwest had traveled into the area to offer assistance with power restoration. The estimate for having all Duke Energy customers’ power restored was by midnight Sunday, Sept. 17.

The Duke Energy employees who had come into the area were very pleased with the cooperation and patience they had received from the local workers and customers.

At the conclusion of the call, City Manager Tim Bennett provided a briefing on the local post-hurricane status of clean-up. He spoke positively of the work done by the Public Works Department, who initially worked round-the-clock. In his briefing, Bennett told the commissioners that the wastewater facilities, and city wells are “good to go.”

He also commended the Fire and Police Departments for all of their work in the midst of the storm. Bennett thanked the IT specialist for having City Hall up and running so quickly.

In light of the city’s recent experience, Bennett stressed the importance of having an emergency services contract in place to assist with returning the city to normal operations.

The hurricane was not the only item the commissioners discussed. They also held the first public hearing on the fiscal year 2017-18 budget. During the discussion, an issue was raised about available funds to reimburse the Madison Correctional Institute (MCI) for the use of some of the inmates to assist with some of the work around the city. Commissioner Townsend had concerns as to whether or not this was the best use of funds.

Following a lengthy discussion, the commissioners voted to approve the first draft of the budget (on a vote of 3 to 2), and (following a statement by Commissioner Catron that a great deal of discussion was still needed) the second public hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 26.

Bennett introduced the need for a contract with an entity for natural disaster clean-up services. He presented a proposed contract for these services between the City and C.M. Brandies, Inc.

The City Commissioners were also informed about a meeting that was taking place among the County Commissioners simultaneous to the City meeting regarding the sharing of the fire fee with the City.

Another item brought before the Commissioners came from Chuck Hitchcock, Community Development Director. His request involved a change to the C-4 Zoning District.  This would allow for the approval of a request from someone to expand a storage facility. The decision made was to consider each request on a case-by-case basis, and the requests would come through the Planning and Zoning Board to the Commissioners. City Clerk Hall told the Board that there would be no additional cost to the City.

The next item on the agenda was an application for a Range Ave. Sanitary Sewer Replacement Project Loan from the National Rural Water Association and US Department of Agriculture Rural Development Revolving Fund. The request was approved unanimously.

Following the discussion of a few more agenda items (that were tabled until the next meeting), the meeting was adjourned.

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