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Tensions rise over budgets in Greenville

The Town Council of Greenville gathered for their monthly meeting on Monday, September 14 at 6 p.m. After the minutes for the last meeting was approved, along with the budget workshop minutes for August 19 and August 26, the floor was open to citizen participation. A citizen came to the board asking to bring a football league back into Greenville. He asked the board for permission to use the park to have practice and games in and also expressed a need for sponsorship and equipment. The board agreed to discuss the concern later in the meeting. Matilda Thomas took to the podium and conveyed her concern about the issue of pants-sagging in Greenville. “If Madison, Monticello and Perry can do it, we can do something about it too,” said Thomas. “The thing about it is, [the county] isn't pushing it,” said council-member Alphonso Young. “[The police] see it all the time, in Madison County period.” The board agreed to table this concern for the next meeting. The first item on the agenda was a public hearing for the discussion and approval for the tentative millage rate for fiscal year 2015-2016. Town Manager Tim Day announced that the millage rate for this year is identical for last year. The operating millage rate for Madison County is 9.40399 mills.

“We did not go back to the rollback rate which could probably have produced a couple thousand dollars more,” said Day. “Obviously there's no tax increase, but if anything it would be a very small reduction.” The board approved the millage rate and moved on to the next item. The tentative budget for fiscal year 2015-2016 was approved. The scheduled public hearing to adopt the final adoption of the budget of 2015-2016 was scheduled for Monday, September 28 at 6 p.m. The board approved the date for the public hearing. Thomas did not understand the budget and asked Vice Mayor Elesta Pritchett to answer a question about the budget, but Mayor Barbara Dansey responded instead. “[The budget] has been approved,” said Dansey. Thomas began to say “I'm a citizen now-” but was cut off at once by Dansey, who banged the gavel in response. Thomas continued to ask Dansey questions about the budget, announcing that she did still not understand. “I'm not trying to be rude,” said Thomas. “I just want an understanding.”

“The budget is how much money the town has to spend,” asserted Dansey. Although Dansey began to move forward with the meeting, tapping the gavel in attempts to end the conversation, Thomas proceeded to ask more questions. Tim Day intercepted and agreed with the board that the public hearing would be held September 28. The meeting went back into gear and the next item on the agenda was the discussion and possible approval of change in Recreation Coordinator, but this item was announced that it would be brought back up later on in the meeting due to the conversation getting sidetracked to a different issue among the audience. As a result, the board moved on to Ordinance 236, an ordinance relating to the tax and electricity, metered or bottled gas, telephone service; fixing rates; and providing the effective date of such amendment. The ordinance was established in 1889 at eight percent, but the tax has been 10 percent for many years. Day wanted to make sure with the board that this ordinance wasn't in conflict with anything, as the records for the 10 percent tax were not able to be found. This ordinance was tabled for the public hearing on September 28. Day brought up the next item on the agenda to discuss and approve of the bid on 129 SW Old Mission, the old Tri-County Electric building.

There was one bid of $5,001, and the original starting bid for the property was $5,000. The board approved this bid. Next, Grants Consultant Jim Parrish took the floor to discuss the reaffirmation for the 2012 preliminary engineering report and the request for inclusion to DEP for Phase II of the Waste Water Treatment Plant. The board approved both of these items. Parrish then asked the board to discuss and possibly approve the Procurement Policy Revision. Parrish told the board that the procurement needed to be updated due to federal regulation number changes, and in the procurement, the title of town supervisor needed to be changed to town manager. The changes for the procurement policy were approved. The next item tied in with the Procurement Policy was the Citizen Complaint Policy. In 1989, the town council adopted this policy, but the minutes for the meeting where the policy was approved could not be found. Parrish asked for the board's reaffirmation for the existing citizen complaint policy. The board approved the reaffirmation. After Parrish was finished at the podium, Day brought back up the subject of the new Recreation Coordinator. “There was no motion due to a lot of conversation in the audience,” announced Pritchett. Day told Pritchett that there needed to be a motion to have a new recreation coordinator, and the board approved the motion, 4-1. Day then told the board about his plans for the old Greenville library to be turned into a new recreation center. “The County Commission approved [the use for] that building, and I asked Allen Cherry to expedite the deed to the building,” said Day. “I didn't want to put power on or anything in our name until that building was actually our building.” Day introduced Talinda Mitchell, a representative from the Boys and Girls Club and announced that he and Mitchell are wanting to set up a program implementing the Boys and Girls Club in the rec center. “I do see that facility not just being tied to the Boys and Girls Club but to the recreation department,” said Day. Mitchell informed the board that the new recreation center would be more of a youth center for teens ages 13-18 that will help teens with college prep, technology and supply all the needs that the Boys and Girls Club does. “It will give teens a place to go on the weekends and give the community anything it needs specifically for Greenville's community,” said Mitchell.

The new recreation coordinator would have the responsibility of overseeing the facility. The center would transition into a youth center after becoming the community center first. Day informed the board that there was some water damage in the facility, but that it would be taken care of as repairs go forward. Day also informed that the deed for the facility is coming. The board approved the updates for the new recreation center and also approved the football league for the Greenville. The park was approved as the grounds for the new league. The last item on the agenda was for Greenville's Country Christmas. Marcus Norris, President of the Country Christmas, asked the board if the city crews could clean up after the event. This was approved. The meeting concluded with department reports from the fire department. The department is in need of new members, as there are currently only three people running the department. Training will be available for those who need it. Day also announced that the new Farmers and Merchants ATM will be put outside the front of the town hall building in the next couple weeks. He hopes that by putting the ATM in front, citizens using the ATM will feel safer and take a look at the bulletin board to see what is going on around the community. Vice Mayor Elesta Pritchett announced that she received a letter from a visitor at the Ray Charles House who thanked her for his time there. He also sent a check for $50 in support of the Ray Charles project.

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