Waynesboro City Commission Hears Possible Solutions to Sewer Plant Odor Problem

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   The Waynesboro City Commission met in regular session on Monday, February 8th, 2021 at City Hall in Waynesboro. All commissioners were present, including Mayor Chris Bevis, Vice Mayor Jeff Davis, Commissioner Lynn Warren, Commissioner Jeff Howell, and Commissioner Tony Creasy. Also in attendance were City Manager John Hickman and City Recorder Paige Jackson.

   Mayor Bevis called the meeting to order, and Vice Mayor Davis offered the invocation.

   First on the agenda was approval of the minutes from the previous commission meeting. Commissioner Howell made a motion to approve. Vice Mayor Davis seconded the motion, and the minutes were approved.

   Department reports were next on the agenda. City Manager Hickman distributed fiscal year-to-date expense reports, revenue reports, cash collateral statements, and investment reports for the commissioners’ review.

   City Manager Hickman next told the commission that the city had finally received a check from the insurance company for the City Park pavilion that burned down. He said that the commission will need to make a decision sometime in the near future regarding the specifications of a new pavilion to be built, such as the size, whether or not to include a fireplace, restrooms, etc. Commissioner Warren asked if the project would be able to be put out for bids in time to get a new pavilion built before summer, and Hickman said that it would just depend on how soon decisions were made about the building specs.

   City Manager Hickman then went over a few more items with the commission, including:

-Pavement Restorations Co. is about 75% finished with pavement patching and repairs on city streets.

-The family of the late Dr. Joe Hall has requested to rename a portion of Fairlane Drive that runs adjacent to Hall Medical Clinic in honor of Dr. Hall. There is only one residence that will be affected by an address change, and the residents have expressed that they approve of the name change. With no objections from the commission given, City Attorney Polk will draw up an ordinance for the name change.

   The city manager then brought up the annual Independence Day Celebration, saying that the commission has usually already made a decision on the entertainment by this time. Following a brief discussion, the commission decided not to try to book a big-name artist for this year due to the uncertainty of COVID protocols, and to plan on using local artists for entertainment at the event.

   Next was a review of the fiscal year 2019/2020 city audit. City auditor Mark Godwin, CPA, reviewed the audit with the commission, confirming that the city once again received an “unqualified opinion,” which is the highest opinion an auditor can make. Godwin praised the city for being financially healthy, with healthy fund balances in all accounts. He said that the city is very “fiscally minded,” and is in overall good financial condition.

   The audit produced only four findings, with corrections already having been made toward them before the audit results were presented. The findings are listed below, along with management’s responses for correction:

   1. INADEQUATE SEGREGATION OF DUTIES

   The operating structure of the City does not provide adequate segregation of duties between persons with access to assets and those responsible for reconciling records and recording transactions. This was also a finding in the prior year. The cause of this finding was identified as a lack of accounting staff. Management’s response was that the City Manager and City Recorder will review and document its review of the financial transactions incurred by the city.

   2. FINANCIAL STATEMENTS MATERIALLY MISSTATED BEFORE AUDIT

   The city had materially misstated some numbers in the financial statements. Material adjustments were required because the city’s financial reporting system did not prevent, detect, or correct potential misstatements in the accounting records. The city concurred with the finding, and said that the new finance officer/bookkeeper will attend classes and training, and the city will purchase necessary software to ensure compliance.

   3. PURCHASE ORDERS

   Purchase orders were not issued properly. Some purchase orders had no amounts while some others were issued after the purchase was made. There were some expenditures with no purchase orders. The cause of this finding, a repeat finding as well, was identified as the client being unaware of the necessity. Mr. Godwin told the commission that this finding did not indicate a widespread issue with purchase orders; only a few were identified in the sample taken for the audit. Management’s response said that the city will research and pursue a more efficient policy to streamline and become more effective in purchasing, with the approval of the board.

   4. INTER-FUND RECEIVABLES

   Inter-fund receivables were not eliminated within one year of origination. Management’s response was that funds will be transferred immediately to appropriate accounts as soon as the current year audit is finalized and verified by auditors.

   The renewal of the city’s auditing contract with Godwin and Associates was next. All commissioners were in verbal agreement to continue with Godwin and Associates at the same fee as last year.

   Kim Eakes, engineer with Griggs and Maloney Engineering, addressed the commission next. She first gave an update on two current projects, the Highway 64 East water line extension and the site development grant for the Industrial Park.

   Ms. Eakes said that the plans and specs for the water line extension, which begins at the Geisler Springs well and extends to 48 Creek Road, have been approved by TDEC and ECD, and they are now waiting on a permit from TDOT. She then said that two different approximately five-acre sites at the Industrial Park have been identified for the site development grant. She briefly explained how the steep and rocky terrain will have to be blasted and cut down in order to make it level enough for construction. Ms. Eakes confirmed that the cost of the project is estimated to be $1,185,000.00.

   Next, Ms. Eakes discussed with the commission the odor from the sewer plant. The commissioners explained that they all receive almost daily complaints from citizens regarding the odor. City Manager Hickman said that there were few to no complaints for the first three or four years after the new sewer plant was built, but now there are complaints on a daily basis. After discussing the plant operations further with Plant Manager Patrick Burns and the commission, Ms. Eakes said that it sounds like the odor problem is likely caused from too much buildup of old sludge in the digester. She said that solutions to the problem may include having the sludge emptied and carried off more often, and possibly getting a cover to go over the digester. She also said that the city should look into land application sites from farmers and landowners who would be interested in having the sludge put on their crop lands. She said that she and Plant Manager Burns would be talking more, and would come up with a workable solution to the odor problem.

   City Manager Hickman next told the commission that MDN Development, a property developer from Nashville, had inquired about a possible purchase price for the Industrial Park property on Highway 64 East. Although the city has not advertised the property for sale, the developer has expressed interest in purchasing it. The commission agreed that an appraisal would need to be done before a sale price could be stated. Commissioner Warren made a motion to entertain an offer from MDN Development if one were to be made. Vice Mayor Davis seconded the motion, and it carried unanimously.

   Under open items on the agenda, Commissioner Creasy asked and it was confirmed that there is no city ordinance preventing young people from sitting on the square.

   Commissioner Howell said that there are some bad potholes at the Sonic entrance, and City Manager Hickman said that he would have them looked at. Howell then asked about the flooring that the city is supposed to have installed in the Tennessee Container building, and Hickman said that the flooring would be put in after the new awning is installed. He said that Mr. John Lynch had actually called him that day to express his appreciation for the work that has already been done on the building, including the roof and the installation of LED lights.

   Commissioner Warren said that he recently spoke with Ms. Martha Kelly about the addition of a 10-12 foot concrete lounging area at the City Pool. City Manager Hickman said that it would be possible to do, but that there are plumbing and underground electrical lines to consider in the spot where the concrete expansion would be. The commission agreed to look into this further.

   Vice Mayor Davis asked about the buzzard problem around the city. City Manager Hickman said that the buzzards roost along Clifton Turnpike, and seem to be particularly bad right now because it is their mating season. He said that he would look into getting permission for the buzzards to be shot and killed.

   With no further business to come before the commission, Vice Mayor Davis made a motion to adjourn. Commissioner Warren seconded the motion, and the meeting was adjourned.