|Citizens question Martin City Board
|After hearing remarks from citizens on hand during the formal session of Martin’s board of mayor and aldermen Monday evening, an agreement was reached to allow Martin Mayor Randy Brundige to enter into negotiations for a new city hall location. Brundige assured two of Martin’s residents that questioned the funding of the project that the city will not increase taxes on citizens to purchase an existing location for a city hall central office.
Rick Edwards of Fonville Street reminded Martin board members that people are suffering form a “downed economy” and his elderly neighbors were concerned about the potential money that would be spent to support a new city hall location. First State Bank on University Street in Martin has offered its building and parking lot to the City of Martin for $1.5 million.
If the city purchases the property, the conditions of the contract would allow the bank to lease the property from the city and pay insurance and real estate taxes until the bank builds a new structure for relocation. A timeline for the leasing of the bank to the city was suggested of 18 months during an informal board session last Tuesday.
Rick Edwards asked if there was an urgency to get the deal done today if the city had two years to consider the proposal. The taxpayer made mention of the city’s consideration to purchase the central office of the Weakley County Municipal Electric System.
He added he understood there was a need for a larger city hall location as employees were “sitting on top of one another” because the current facility was crowded.
Russ Edwards, a second Martin resident on hand during the meeting, noted to board members that he did not want to see the city “make the same mistake as South Fulton did.” He said South Fulton residents have experienced significant tax increases in several public works services after the city built a new city hall location.
Alderman Johnny Tuck originally objected to the proposed project during the informal board meeting last week and resounded that stance Monday evening until he was offered assurance the project could be paid for without imposing new taxes on the residents of Martin.
Tuck questioned if there were any remodeling issues that would pose a challenge for a new city hall location.
Brundige stated the bank was currently set up to house city hall and its employees.
Alderman Randy Edwards said construction costs are estimated to be around $200 a square foot. First State Bank houses 11,660 square feet. To build a structure that size at $200 a square foot, it would cost the city at least $2.3 million. Randy Edwards also stated the banking corporation spent approximately $1 million almost a decade ago to upgrade the existing building.
Alderman Danny Nanney stated he remembered when a study was conducted to determine how much it would cost the city to build a larger city hall at the current location about six or seven years ago. That figure ran an estimated $4.2 million in costs for a new facility, according to Nanney.
When asked how the building would be funded, Brundige responded that taxes would not increase to fund the project. The Martin mayor said while money would come out of all four funds to help pay for the new building, the city would recoup $274,000 that has been spent each year to help pay for the Weakley County Detention Center. A contract set to expire in September 2010 cites each city throughout the county pays a portion toward the facility and Martin’s share is approximately $274,000.
The proposed letter of intent between Brundige and First State Bank lists an estimated payment of $86,000 by the city of Martin for 29 years.
Brundige said the money that went toward paying for the WCDC would go toward paying for the proposed city hall location after 2010 and the loan could be paid off early.
Board members unanimously agreed to allow Brundige to sign a letter of intent for purchase of the property.
While Martin citizens are expected to see “normal” two to three percent increases in water and sewer bills over time according to the mayor, residents living outside the city limits face a possible $30 increase in rural fire subscriptions.
Terms of a proposed city ordinance would amend a 2001 ordinance by raising the cost of a one-year rural fire subscription for rural residents from $70 to $100.
The ordinance states the Martin Fire Department has devoted to pieces of fire apparatus to the protection of properties in the rural area and fire fighting expenses have increased significantly in the last seven years.
For those who do not pay their rural fire subscriptions and require the firefighting services of the MFD, there will be a charge of $2,500 instead of $750. A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Monday, April 7. The ordinance will have its second reading that evening before the board of aldermen.
In department news, Martin Public Works Director Billy Wagster announced the department plans to temporarily close another section of Lindell Street in downtown Martin. Wagster said the portion of the street form Oxford to Main streets will be closed for approximately a week.
Martin Police Chief David Moore announced the department kicked off its annual Citizens Police Academy Thursday night. He added the department is “wrapping up” some residential burglaries and have recovered some guns. It is also investigating the report of a sex offender located in a female campus dormitory.
Parks and Recreation Director Dennis Suiter announced plans are underway for a dinner celebration congratulating the Westview High School cheerleaders for their first back-to-back National Championship titles.
The Martin Board of Mayor and Aldermen will host an informal session at 5:15 p.m. on April 1. Its regular monthly session is set for 5:15 p.m. Monday, April 7.