The Smithville Golf Course, which has been closed since October 28th, will soon re-open now that the city has worked out a deal with a new tenant.
After months of delay and indecision on the future of the golf course, the aldermen voted 5 to 0 Monday night to enter into a ten year lease agreement with Tony Poss to operate the Smithville Municipal Golf and Swim Club. Poss will pay the city $100 per year in rent. After the first ten years, Poss will have an option to extend the term of the lease agreement for an additional ten years.
During a February 10th workshop, the aldermen discussed the issue in depth about whether to lease the golf course and swimming pool to another tenant, or purchase the necessary equipment and hire a manager to operate the facility for the city. Since tenants in recent years have had difficulty making money with the golf course, Alderman Steve White said he thought the city should operate it and hire a manager, just as it does with the airport. White said with increased business and more golfers, the city could recover the initial start up costs once the golf course got up and running. However Aldermen Shawn Jacobs and Aaron Meeks, concerned about the costs to the city and public opinion, apparently didn't share White's view.
Mayor Taft Hendrixson, at the workshop, said he would have City Attorney Vester Parsley draft a proposal with terms the city would be willing to accept subject to the board's approval, to serve as a starting point in negotiations with whomever the manager or tenant would be. And while no deal had been reached with Poss up until Monday night, at least some city officials were apparently hoping to come to some agreement with him.
The mayor and aldermen, with the unsigned draft lease agreement in hand, reviewed the proposal with Poss during Monday night's meeting. Poss said he could accept the proposal with some changes. Poss asked that the city make sure that the irrigation system and pumps are working properly, that the city pay all utilities for the first six months, and that the requirement for a certificate of deposit or letter of credit in an amount of $10,000 be reduced to $5,000. The mayor and aldermen agreed to Poss' request.
Alderman Aaron Meeks made a motion that the city enter into the lease agreement with Poss, with these amendments. Alderman Steve White offered a second to Meeks motion, saying that while he still preferred the city running the golf course, he thought Poss would do a good job as a tenant. Aldermen Shawn Jacobs, Cecil Burger, and W.J. (Dub) White all voted in favor.
Under terms of the agreement, the tenant (Poss) agrees to pay all utilities for the golf course facility (after six months), except the landlord (City) will maintain the tennis courts, the nets and fence, as well as pay the electric bill for the tennis court lights. The tenant (Poss) shall be responsible for providing all water to the facility, except the landlord (City) agrees to provide all water, chemicals, and all other costs associated with the swimming pool. The landlord (City) will be responsible for all fees and charges associated with the operation of the swimming pool, including but not limited to any fees to the Tennessee Department of Health.
The landlord (City) shall be responsible for repairs to the exterior of the clubhouse including the roof, and further repair any cracks or major structural defects which occur in the swimming pool.
The tenant (Poss) may not assign nor sublease any part of the premises during the term of this lease and the tenant shall not make any alterations or additions to the leased premises without first obtaining written consent of the landlord (City).
The landlord (City) shall insure, at its sole expense, the clubhouse and pool against fire and other hazards and provide public liability insurance, including general liability coverage, with a limit of not less than one million dollars for any one person and three million dollars coverage per occurrence.
The tenant (Poss) agrees to provide the landlord with a certificate of deposit or letter of credit in the principal amount of five thousand dollars to insure the faithful performance of all obligations under this lease.
The tenant (Poss) will provide the necessary equipment, supplies, etc for maintaining the golf course, including, but not limited to, all necessary mowing equipment, tractors, aerator, and verticutter, to maintain the golf course and grounds. Further, the tenant shall maintain at all times golf carts which shall be available for use by all patrons of the golf course facility.
The tenant (Poss) shall be responsible for the operation of the Smithville Swimming Pool, to include the hiring of certified lifeguards, however the landlord (City) shall pay their salaries during all hours of operation. Further, the tenant (Poss) agrees to open the pool to the general public on a daily basis beginning with Memorial Day until the first day of the school year as designated by the DeKalb County Board of Education. The tenant (Poss) further agrees to provide at least one day of "FREE" swimming to school children K thru 12 who have successfully passed their most recent school year.
The tenant (Poss) agrees to establish an Advisory Committee which shall consist of at least six members who shall serve without compensation. One of the members shall be an Alderman, selected by the Mayor, and the remaining five members shall be residents of the City of Smithville. The Advisory Committee shall meet quarterly for the purpose of discussing any improvements which should be made to the facility, and the tenant agrees to exert a good faith effort to comply with any reasonable request made by the Advisory Committee. The tenant will submit a written report of each committee meeting to the Mayor within ten days of the meeting.
Either party may terminate this lease with or without cause by giving a ninety day written notice of their intent to terminate said lease agreement.
In other business, Alderman Steve White, prior to approval of the minutes, asked his fellow aldermen to rescind their vote on the suspension of Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson during the last meeting two weeks ago, and apparently consider firing him based on findings in a recent state audit. Otherwise, White wanted the mayor to veto the board's action on the suspension. Neither the board nor the mayor complied with White's request
During the last meeting, the aldermen voted 3 to 2 to impose a five day suspension of Hendrixson, to begin at the discretion of the mayor. Aldermen Aaron Meeks, Shawn Jacobs, and Cecil Burger voted for the suspension but Alderman Steve White and W.J. (Dub) White voted against the suspension because they wanted to fire Hendrixson.
Alderman Shawn Jacobs said Monday night that he understood Alderman White's concern but felt like the board did the right thing in imposing the suspension, rather than voting to terminate Hendrixson and he added that most of the people who have expressed an opinion to him on this matter agreed with the board's action.
However, Alderman Jacobs remains concerned that a bank, with whom the city does business, cleared checks with only one city official's signature when two signatures are required, as noted in the audit. Jacobs said he wants city officials to look into that further.
In other business, the aldermen voted to hire Todd Bowman on a full time basis as a certified water plant supervisor, now that he has completed his 60 day probationary period. He was initially hired on December 13th earning $13.76 per hour. His pay will increase to $14.46 per hour.
Meanwhile Fire Chief Charlie Parker asked that the city authorize the purchase of a multi-purpose vehicle, such as an SUV or crew cab truck, which can be used to transport firefighters and haul equipment so that the firefighters don't have to use their own vehicles, especially when they go to and from training.
The city has $10,000 budgeted for this expense and Chief Parker said efforts will be made to do business through a government regulated agency such as govdeal or state surplus in order to meet all purchasing requirements. Once a suitable vehicle is found, the purchase will be made and a report will be made to the aldermen on the transaction. The aldermen approved the request.
Chief Parker requested authorization to apply for a FEMA firefighter assistance safety grant to replace existing turnout gear for the firefighters and to buy four new Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). The city could stand to gain as much as $70,000 worth of equipment for the fire department through the grant with a matching obligation to the city of less than $4,000. The board okayed Chief Parker's request.
The board also approved Chief Parker's request to accept bids for the fire department to purchase a new SCBA air compressor and fill station. The city budget includes $20,000 for this expense.
The aldermen have also scheduled a workshop for Monday night, February 28th at 7:00 p.m. at city hall to discuss the purchase of a ladder truck for the fire department.
Chief Parker, who made the request for the workshop, said the department is prepared to make a recommendation on the best alternative for the city based on present and future fire protection needs, after researching available trucks, and checking prices. The city has set aside $400,000 in the budget for the purchase of a used ladder truck.
Meanwhile, Chief Parker said the fire department has scheduled a firefighter recruitment and retention day for Saturday, March 5th. Anyone interested in joining the fire department or wanting to see first hand or learn more is urged to attend. Chief Parker said firefighters already in the department will also take part in some training exercises that day.
In other business, the aldermen voted 4-1 to accept a bid from Langley and Taylor Pool Corporation of Nashville to do repair work on the city swimming pool. The company submitted bids on two alternatives and the city chose the more expensive option which hopefully will provide a more long term solution at $83,649. No other company submitted a bid.
In his bid package, Taylor Dobbs of Langley and Taylor, wrote that his company could not adhere to the scope of the work (as called for in the city's specs) due to the current condition of the fiberglass coating of the pool. Dobbs wrote that the existing fiberglass coating is extremely thin (about 1/16 of an inch) and that it is already deteriorating in several areas. He proposed both a short term and longer term solution. Under the proposal chosen by the city, Langley and Taylor will remove the fiberglass coating of the pool, plaster the pool with white marcite plaster and tile the gutters with 1x1 white tile.
Alderman Steve White, who voted against it, said since neither of Langley and Taylor's options met the bid specs as advertised by the city, the project should be re-bid. "Since we didn't get any bids that actually addressed our bids, we need to re-bid for another week or two to see if we get any more bids."
White said the repair work on the pool could be done cheaper than what Langley and Taylor had proposed and just as efficient. "On the thin spots of the fiberglass, what you have to do is cut it all out, put new fiberglass in, and then apply the primer paint or gel coat to harden the fiberglass as a protective covering. It'll last 10-12 years. That's the way this pool has been repaired in the past and it won't be as expensive as these two bids."
Mayor Hendrixson pointed out that the city has spent more than $136,000 on various pool repairs since July, 1998.
Alderman White made a motion that all specs be re-bid but he did not receive a second to the motion.
Alderman Aaron Meeks, who said action was needed now in order to get the pool ready for the swimming season, made a motion to accept Langley's second bid option. Meek's motion was adopted on a 4-1 vote.
On another matter, Meeks asked that the city accept bids to purchase a security camera system for the police department once the specs are ready. The city has budgeted $7,000 for this expense. The board gave it's approval.