Golf Course to Get Irrigation System

October 15, 2007
Dwayne Page

The Smithville Board of Aldermen Monday night voted 3 to 2 to award a bid on the installation of an irrigation system for the fairways at the Smithville Golf Course to Oasis Irrigation for $213,716, the lowest of the four bids submitted.

Aldermen Tonya Sullivan, Willie Thomas, and Jerry Hutchins' Sr. voted in favor but Aldermen Cecil Burger and Steve White voted against it.

Burger says "I'm not against golf. It's necessary for the community, but are we going to do something for the rest of the community for recreation? Are we going to spend that much money for our people that don't play golf? We've got people all over the city and county that begs for recreation of other kinds."

White said he felt like the city was breaking the terms of it's own lease agreement with the tenant of the golf course, Jimmy Lewis, by funding this project. " I feel like this would be a breach of the contract on the city's part because we entered into a contract with Jimmy and he's supposed to be installing it (irrigation system) himself"

Alderman Sullivan said "I think he's provided enough information that shows that he has spent the amount of money that was agreed upon in his contract."

Last month, the city voted 4 to 1 to accept bids on the irrigation system and take half of Lewis' rent to pay for it over time. Lewis will continue to pay his monthly rent of $2,500 per month with half going to the general fund and half going to the city to pay the debt of the irrigation system. Alderman White voted against it, saying he felt like the city should stick to the terms of the current agreement with Lewis.

Lewis, with his former partner Darryl Counts, was granted a five year extension of his lease agreement along with a five year renewal option several months ago as a consideration for his commitment " to expend the sum of one hundred thousand dollars in order to dig a second well, to install a sprinkler system for the fairways, and to purchase golf carts". Lewis has completed two of the three projects he agreed to under the lease.

Under the previous agreement with the city, Lewis had the golf course and swimming pool leased until 2012 at a rate of $2,500 per month. Under the amended agreement, Lewis was granted an extension of his lease through 2017 at the same rate of $2,500 per month, with a five year renewal option. The monthly rate can be renegotiated in 2017.

Lewis says he has already spent more than $92,000 on the golf course and swimming pool. Lewis made a similar request to the city council last year but was denied.

After the vote to award the bid Monday night, Mayor Taft Hendrixson asked the council how the city was going to pay for it. "This project is not in our budget. I need to know where the money is going to come from to pay for this."

Sullivan responded, "I don't think we've spent anything on parks and recreation in a while. There's lots of areas it can be taken from. I believe there's some money in the golf course fund. I suggest we get with our auditors and figure that out."

Later in the meeting, one man, apparently an irrigation product distributor, took issue with the city's bid specs on this project and said he wanted to file a formal protest. The man was apparently concerned that the specs called for a certain brand product and should have included others of equal value. City attorney John Pryor is expected to be made aware of the man's concern.

The city's 2007-2008 budget shows that the municipality receives $30,000 per year from Lewis for his rental of the golf course and swimming pool.

The spending plan includes unspecified capital outlay expenditures in the parks department of $15,000 for the year ending, June 30th, 2008.. Total city park expenses comes to $97,876 broken down as follows:

Park Salaries- $40,239
Payroll Taxes- $3,622
Employee Insurance- $7,400
Retirement Expense- $365
Utilities- $4,000
Repairs & Maintenance- $8,000
Miscellaneous- $500
Supplies- $6,500
Uniforms- $250
Vehicle Operations- $4,000
Insurance- $8,000
Capital Outlay- $15,000

Under Recreation Centers, the budget shows total expenditures of $14,100 including $2,500 for repairs and maintenance to the pool, $1,600 for insurance, and $10,000 for capital outlay.

Alderman Willie Thomas asked who was over the city's parks. Mayor Hendrixson says unlike other city departments, there is no alderman/commissioner over parks and recreation, but for many years the Smithville Business and Professional Women's Club has overseen Greenbrook Park, booking events, etc. The city also has security officers in the park. Thomas agreed with Burger that the city should do more in providing recreation opportunities. Hendrixson says he has spoken with County Mayor Mike Foster who is interested in having a committee look into the possibilities for the city and county.

In other business, the board failed to act on local businessman Jewel Redmon's request to allow sales of fireworks in the city limits.

At the last meeting, Redmon, owner and operator of Jewel's Market, requested that people be allowed to have the same opportunity to sell fireworks inside the city, as those have outside the city, especially around the Fourth of July.

Since December 13th, 1982, the city has had an ordinance that prohibits the sale of fireworks in the city, but allows them to be ignited, except in the downtown central business district.

Fire Chief Charlie Parker, without taking sides on the issue, stated during the last meeting that if the council were to allow the sale of fireworks in the city, some regulations would have to be adopted.

City attorney John Pryor was to look into the matter further, but he was not at the meeting Monday night to comment on it.

Alderman Sullivan stated that she believes the existing ordinance should remain in place, " I think the ordinance that we have should stand. Chief Parker indicated that were some safety issues that we might not want to get into at this time."

Redmon responded that "Chief Parker told me that there would be no problem with the sale of fireworks as long as we abide by the rules."

No vote was taken on Redmon's request.

The city board approved an ordinance on first reading making the new Secretary/Treasurer, Hunter Hendrixson the purchasing agent for the city. Second reading action is expected during a special meeting on October 29th at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.

First reading action was postponed on a proposed ordinance to rezone 1.2 acres of James E. Cantrell's property on South College Street from B-1 to B-2 commercial.

Cantrell's request came before the planning commission on October 4th, but the rezoning application was not completed until October 5th, and according to city regulations, the application must be turned in at least fifteen days before the planning commission meets and votes on it. Therefore, City Attorney Pryor has advised that the planning commission take up the request again on November 1st and that letters be sent to adjoining property owners making them aware of the proposed rezoning, as per city requirements. If approved by the planning commission, the proposed ordinance can be brought up for passage on first reading by the city council on November 5th and second and final reading following a public hearing on November 19th.

Alderman Sullivan expressed her concern about the recent transfer of a sewer treatment plant employee, Roger Schaffnit, to the water treatment plant, without board approval.

According to Sullivan, the city administration advertised a job opening for a full time water treatment plant trainee on August 1st and that the job description specified technical certification as a pre-requisite for the appointment. Twenty five persons applied for the position.

Sullivan says the board was never presented with the job applications nor told the position had been filled and that the city code requires formal action by the full board of aldermen to transfer an employee to another department. She says the transferred employee was not certified.

Alderman White says the city currently has two certified operators at the water treatment plant, and Mayor Hendrixson added that this trainee (Shaffnit) is working toward his certification. Hendrixson also explained that when there is an opening within a department, a city employee desiring to transfer has usually been given preference in filling the position.

Sullivan says she wants to know for certain when this trainee will become certified. Mayor Hendrixson says he will have a follow up report at the next meeting.

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