Thursday, December 14, 2006
ASCO gets garbage contract; open job stirs talk
By SUE WATSON
The City of Holly Springs authorized negotiations with ASCO Sanitation in Walnut for solid waste collection. ASCO has held the contract for the last six years and underbid R.E.S. in Ripley and BFI in Memphis.
ASCO offered to provide once a week collection for residential and small commercial customers for $8.86 a month.
Resourceful Environmental Solutions, which holds the county’s solid waste collection contract, bid $9.25 a month on residential accounts and $10.50 for commercial collections. BFI of Memphis bid $16.50 for residential and small commercial collections.
Bids were opened for a backhoe for the utility department with five bidders offering quotes. The board of aldermen, at the request of public works director Don Hollingsworth, rejected all bids due to a failure to get complete bid specifications to some bidders. The bid will be reissued.
The board also approved the issuance of a beer permit for Courtesy Game Room, a business that formerly operated under the name Courtesy Lounge before closing for remodeling.
The approval came following no complaints from businesses or churches near the business located at 145 N. Memphis Street.
Public Works Director Ricky Shoffner asked the board to suspend plans to buy a wood chipper for the sanitation department in lieu of a dire need for a leaf bagger, saying the present one is about played out.
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry and aldermen agreed with the mayor saying that residents should not bag their leaves, but rather put them on the curb, not in the street.
Loose leaves piled in the street are strewn about by traffic and washed into the city’s storm water drains producing trouble for the street department with lots of calls to unclog drains.
“We need to tell people to pile branches and sticks separately from leaves,” DeBerry said.
The sticks and small branches clog the leaf bagger, he said.
“I think you need to get your specifications on that (leaf bagger) and get one ordered,” Hutchens suggested.
The board authorized information technology director Ken Robinson to offer an entry level technician to a prior applicant after a lengthy boardroom discussion about the duties of the position which ultimately necessitated an executive session to resolve the matter.
Robinson came back to the board asking to hire an alternate saying the person who was offered the position initially had already accepted a job.
Some aldermen argued for re-advertising the position but DeBerry said he was opposed to re-advertising for lower level positions due to the costs imposed.
Alderman Nancy Hutchens asked who has been doing the networking for IT and Robinson said he had with the help of some interns and other jobs had been subcontracted out to equipment vendors.
Robinson said the same work load has been on the table at all times and other departments typically have gone outside for help.
“In my opinion, we should take care of this and keep dollars here,” he said, adding that he has asked the board for two technicians when he really has enough work for three.
Hutchens said quotes for equipment were provided without hidden costs made obvious on some orders.
“That’s what you pay me for and I did tell you,” Robinson said.
Hutchens ask if department heads have been consulting with Robinson on computer equipment problems.
Robinson answered that departments are used to solving their own equipment problems.
“What we’re doing here is basically fighting over a budget issue and we approved it (three positions) and now two months into the budget we are questioning if we need the positions,” DeBerry said. “That’s disingenuous, I think. I don’t think any department head can say they have not been informed.
“We pay this man too much money to try to see who is going to take a screw out of a computer. It does not make sense to be constantly subcontracting jobs out.”
Robinson said it has been practical to subcontract computer hardware and software problems but not now.
“My concern is you need a more qualified applicant,” said alderman Tim Liddy.
Robinson said if the board had approved the hiring of the first applicant they chose more expeditiously IT would have secured the applicant. It was not a question of the salary offer, he said.
In utility department business, director John Collins advised that an emergency order for sewer repair is no longer required. Holly Springs Utility Department has decided to install a temporary line and hold off on sewer line and manhole replacements in a rural area on Highway 4 East until there is growth in the area, he said.
Collins also advised the mayor and board that some HSUD employees need safety training on certain pieces of equipment and that some work has stopped until training is done.
With business about wrapped up, Mayor DeBerry asked the board permission to advertise for a community development director.
Liddy said he would like to hold discussions on what the duties would be to assure that the city is not overlapping the duties of that position with other departments.
DeBerry replied that community development and economic development go hand in hand and the position was once focused on economic development, then community development.
“I think we need to get economic development back in to it,” he said.
DeBerry said several state projects (housing) are handled in the office, as well as referrals when calls come in to city hall about Health and Human Services, Medicaid and so on.
“Don (Hollingsworth) is doing a lot of stuff on Tax Increment Financing he does not need to be doing,” DeBerry said, suggesting those duties could be shifted to the department of Community Development, which has been without a chairman since the death of Rev. Ruben Pegues several months ago.
“That’s what we were saying,” Hutchens and Liddy said.
“I would like to see with Collins here now, and the fact that we have been so successful in getting grants, why do we hire someone new. Can we not sit down and brainstorm?”
“What is not getting done?” asked Liddy.
“You are asking the person to serve as department head who is labeled as assistant to continue to do this on an indefinite basis,” DeBerry said. “Now, I’m trying to hire the ninth department head.”
“Throughout the years Ruben handled the housing grant and oversaw grants others got out and got,” said Hutchens.
“Heretofore, lots of grants being submitted were done through that department before we started doing things through the Planning Commission,” DeBerry said. “I don’t want to lessen the importance of this position, now we have department heads who can write their grants themselves.”
“That’s what we’re saying, we want the job description reviewed,” said Hutchens.
“All I’m asking is to get the bid process; this position is more than grant writing,” DeBerry said.
An alderman said they want to see if the position is really needed.
“I think we need someone to cultivate economic development; somebody in building relationships at state agencies and federal,” said the mayor.
Johnson agreed the post is a necessary one.
“We have some areas of town that need economic development,” he said. “We need to develop some other things about Holly Springs for the people who live here now. I think this is a critical issue and we need to brainstorm. Junk cars - we still have them everywhere. The plate is full and things are not getting done.”
“I want a discussion to facilitate the current process instead of starting a new one,” DeBerry said.
“What kind of qualifications are we going to put on the position?” Johnson asked.
“The final product is up to the discretion of the six of us,” the mayor said. “We’ve got plenty of time to hash that out. I’m just trying to get the process started.”
“If we don’t know what we want, how can we develop a job description?” said Johnson.
“Before we advertise, we would develop a notice of publication,” said DeBerry.
“You have your ideas which are fine and we have ideas,” said Liddy. “Why can’t we work together?”
“Why do we need to have a full-blown-out summit?” DeBerry asked.
“Because your qualifications may be different,” said Hutchens.
“We haven’t talked about it tonight,” said Liddy. “There’s no reason why we cannot discuss the business of this city.”
“You question my integrity. You are saying you don’t trust me to do it,” said the mayor.
“I think this board would like to be included,” said Liddy.
“I wish you would just allow me to do my job,” said DeBerry. “You don’t have to codify everything that comes to this board. I withdraw my request.”
“You don’t need to do that,” said Johnson.
“All I do is make recommendations to the board and I said I was only asking for permission to advertise,” DeBerry said.
“All you (we) are doing now is planning,” said Johnson.
“Just bring that job description up here. I don’t see there is a difference in time (to advertise),” said Hutchens. “Urban renewal went out of the bushes years ago.”
“You make a good point,” DeBerry said.
“If you have something to present to us to advertise - I don’t think we have a motion to say you did a good job,” said Johnson.
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