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Town of Greenville take the next steps with MCSO

John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.

After months of debating, Greenville has finally come to a decision in regards to a proposed interlocal agreement with the Madison County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). The regularly scheduled town council meeting took place on Monday, May 14, at 6 p.m. In attendance were Mayor Barbara Dansey, Vice Mayor Teresa Harville, and councilmembers: Cynthia James, Bobby Burnett, and Calvin Malone. Also in attendance were town attorneys John Reid and Josie Tamayo, Town Clerk Kim Reams, and County Commissioner Ronnie Moore.

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, a total of $25,000 was added to Greenville's budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, in order to fund an Interlocal Agreement between the Town of Greenville and MCSO. According to MCSO Sheriff Ben Stewart, the previous Greenville Town Manager approached him for ideas to improve security in Greenville, when Sheriff Stewart gave him several options. One option suggested was the idea of contracting with MCSO for extra deputy patrol, in addition to that already being provided to Greenville. At that time, an actual Interlocal Agreement was not available, but a group of Greenville citizens came together to form a seven-page proposed Interlocal Agreement, spelling out the requests of Greenville to MCSO for consideration and negotiation. The proposed Interlocal Agreement was discussed during several meetings, but no action was taken.

On Monday, May 14, Dean came before the Council, asking for a vote to move forward with the Interlocal Agreement, if the Council chose to do so. "I think this issue has been discussed ad nauseum," said Dean. "This is something that citizens appear to want and we now need to move on one way or another."

Dean's request was for the Council to allow him to speak with Sheriff Stewart, working to put in place the additional coverage.

"What I intend to do is go and meet with the Sheriff. What I would like for him to do is, under the current Interlocal Agreement, he's going to give us roughly 20 hours of coverage a week," said Dean. "What I would like for him to at least be able to do is to double that. If he's not willing to do that, to work with our County Commissioner to see if we can get at least a sheriff over here for an additional four hours per day, seven days per week." Dean stated that the Citizens Participation Group is more than energized to express their serious concern about police coverage in the Greenville area.

In regards to how citizens will know what kind of coverage the Town of Greenville has now, "What kind of measurables are we looking at having in place so that we can evaluate whether we're really getting the badge for the buck?" asked Councilman Burnett. Dean stated that he will have to convene with the Citizens Participation Group. A citizen in attendance suggested getting preliminary information about current coverage in the area and current crime statistics, specific to Greenville.

"I'm going to kick that back to the community to tell us what they're looking for," said Dean.

Councilman Burnett stated that there should be more than the deputies just driving around. "Encourage the deputies to roll down their windows and speak to the people; get to know the community," said Burnett.

A motion was made by Councilman Malone to allow Dean to go forward and meet with Sheriff Stewart. That motion was seconded by Councilman Burnett.

During the meeting, Dean presented the Council with floor plans for a 5,535 square foot senior citizen and youth community center. The senior citizen center portion of the building will include a banquet room, recreation room, a conference room and a kitchen. The youth community center will feature an entertainment room, computer lab/classroom and recreation room. Both centers will have restrooms. For full floor plans, call Greenville Town Hall at (850) 948-2251.

The next step to bringing the project forward is to get architectural/engineering designs of how the building will be constructed. Dean proposed that a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) be requested in the amount of $600,000 in anticipation of funding this project. He estimates the construction will cost approximately $500,000. Therefore, using the remaining $100,000 as follows: $50,000 for new water meters to cut down revenue loss, and $50,000 for a grant administrator.

As for upfront costs, Dean stated that the CDBG entitles engineers/architects between 8.2 percent and 9.6 percent, which is, at most, approximately $48,000. Burnett was concerned about where the money for upfront costs would come from, to which Dean stated that the money would come from the reserves fund, where more than $200,000 is stored. "We're in double good shape," said Dean.

Councilman Malone dissented. "You want me to approve of constant spending and I don't see any numbers of what we've gained since you've been here," said Malone.

"We got $600,000 that we are entitled to through the CDBG. We need to apply for those resources. You lose an opportunity and you're going to let [someone else who] doesn't need this money to get in a better position because they don't have the need that we have," said Dean. "We are paying [approximately] 10 percent of what we get, so we have our own stake in the game. I wanted a 10,000 sq. ft. double-decker community center. I dumbed that down some so I would leave us more resources to get something that I was going to have to come back and ask you for. We've got water meters that are over 20 years old. Our water revenue is off, upwards of up to 40 percent. I have to make sure that we take advantage of what's on the table."

In regards to revenue loss from water leakage, there was an audit scheduled for the following week and the auditor will provide exact information. Dean stated that the water meter topic will be for another discussion, as the topic was to show what finances will be used in regards to the remaining balance left over from the grant.

The next regular scheduled meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 12, at 6 p.m. Greenville Town Hall is located at 154 SW Old Mission Ave., in Greenville.

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