Fire Chief asks council to restore $252,000 in budget cuts

Demopolis Fire Chief Tommy Tate  appeared before the city council Wednesday night, asking that budget cuts totalling just over $252,900 be restored to his department.

pic - fire chief tate“We have well-trained guys who can respond in three to four minutes,” Tate told the council. “We’re here to protect the critical infrastructure of this city.”

He asked that funds taken from the Fiscal Year 2014-15 budget be restored in order to add personnel and reduce overtime. He noted that the department’s scores have steadily improved and that in the past two fiscal years his department has had a salary budget surplus. He added that the department responds to more than fire calls.

“We also respond to EMS calls. We are a regional haz-mat team and we’ve been training in Ebola preparedness with the hospital,” the chief said, adding that his department recently responded to fire calls at two local businesses.

“The next day those people had a job to go to,” he said. “And we’re saving people’s lives. We here to make this city safe.”

Following Tate’s plea, council member Charles Jones asked Tate which station he would short-staff if he had to. “That’s the reality,” Jones said.  “It’s going to happen. You’re going to be faced with that choice.”

“That would be tough,” Tate responded. “I hope we don’t go that route.”

Mayor Mike Grayson told the chief that the council would take his request under advisement, and also indicated he would schedule a meeting between the fire department senior management and the city council’s finance committee to consider options.

The city received good financial news at Wednesday’s meeting. Bob Young of Frazier-Lanier, Inc. told the council that interest rates are down and have remained low, primarily because the expectation for inflation is low.

He said low interest rates have created an opportunity for the city to receive a refund on a portion of its 2007 bond issue. The city would have the option to take the refund of approximately $170,000 for use on other projects, or take a reduction in the city’s bond payments. The council asked Young to proceed with finalizing the projected refund.

Also, the council approved Airport Manager Jason Pendergrass’ request to apply for a taxiway rehabilitation grant. The $1.25 million grant, if awarded, would require a $62,600 local match.

In other matters, the council:

  • Voted to seek bids for replacing the traffic light at the Arcola/Front/Pettus five-way intersection, and voted to turn various other intersections into four-way stops.
  • Approved a new garbage contract with Advance Disposal, and voted to transfer the contract from the city to the water and sewer board.

    Rev. Tommy Carr

    Rev. Tommy Carr

  • Presented a proclamation to Rev. Tommy Carr recognizing First Presbyterian Church of Demopolis on its 175th anniversary. The council also proclaimed Nov.  5 as First Presbyterian Church of Demopolis Day.
  • Heard Grayson report that October revenues were ahead of expenses by approximately $34,000, but the mayor cautioned that October is traditionally a high revenue month. “We’ve still got to ride herd on expenses,” he said.
  • Appointed Rick Dunn and Major Walker to the Board of Adjustment.