Thursday, August 11, 2011
Board approves fuel-use study
By SUE WATSON
The Holly Springs Board of Aldermen voted August 2 to monitor fuel consumption of city vehicles after alderman Johnnie Ree Bagley Johnson presented a motion, which was withdrawn, to restrict vehicle uses going to and from home with a few exceptions.
In her original motion, Bagley said she wanted all vehicles parked in the city at night and on weekends except for a few department heads and critical services’ supervisors. Her motion would restrict all overnight and weekend off-duty use of city vehicles except for the vehicle used by the mayor, and personnel on call 24-7 at the fire and electric departments. Bagley said she wanted to monitor fuel use during off-duty hours in order to possibly save fuel costs until the end of the fiscal year or October 1.
Mayor Andre’ DeBerry countered Bagley’s motion to restrict with a question of why the vehicles should be parked in order to monitor fuel usage.
“I am unsure why we need to be selective about who is on emergency call,” he said.
He said heavy trucks and equipment are the major users of fuel. Only two employees who live a distance from the city have been allowed to take their vehicles home overnight, he said.
Bagley said she is concerned about personnel who are seen in their service vehicles on the weekend in Oxford, Olive Branch, all over.
Alderman Russell Johnson was also concerned about possible personal use of city vehicles.
Alderman Garrie Colhoun said he has a problem taking away privileges for taking the vehicle home at night for department heads even though he does see city employees driving their service vehicles to the cafe or shopping.
“But department heads might not have access to a problem (emergency) quickly,” he said, if they have to drive to the office to get their service vehicles.
“I hate to tell department heads that, when we rely on them to be there when something happens,” he said, citing times when storms down trees or when ice and snow is on the streets.
“In these days and times with things bucking and breaking all the time, when I call the chief or mayor or something, I have a problem if they don’t come quickly.”
Bagley asked what kinds of emergency could some department heads such as buildings and grounds or information technology have.
Johnson said employees need access to vehicles, but some personnel can put more miles on vehicles going to and from work than at work.
Alderman Calvin James suggested the use of a log book.
“That’s the simpliest way to gauge usage,” he said.
Johnson said he wants a study to compile information to see if it will save the city money.
DeBerry asked Bagley to withdraw her motion and substitute Johnson’s idea.
“If we will do this study in a timely fashion,” Bagley said.
“I don’t have a problem if they take the vehicle home if they live outside the city limits,” Johnson added.
Alderman Harvey Payne said people who drive service vehicles to and from work are subject to paying tax on the benefit to the IRS. However, he applauded utility department workers for their rapid response in clearing streets and lines when there is a storm, saying he had seen them in action in such times.
DeBerry said it was not just HSUD that swings into action during an emergency – but other departments like building and grounds employees are out there with chain saws helping out.
With that, Johnson motioned for a study, seconded by James, and the motion passed unanimously.
In other business, the board of aldermen passed an erosion control ordinance.
Public works director Micheal Crittle explained in a separate interview that the city had no erosion and silt ordinances but washing of soil off construction sites creates a street safety problem and also clogs the stormwater drains. When the stormwater drains get stopped up, the water causes erosion problems and washouts elsewhere, he said.
The ordinances cover the types of measures to be taken for small sites (half an acre up to about seven acres) and large sites (seven acres plus).
“We’ve had some problems on Park Avenue and Higdon Road,” he said.
Hay bales, silt fences or sediment ponds are the types of measures that can be taken to slow water and catch sediment, he said.
Crittle said the ordinance will be enforced.
“The erosion control measures will be enforced once they become official,” he said.
Unless other actions are taken, ordinances will take effect when the minutes of the monthly meetings of August are adopted in September.
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