The City Council Tuesday discussed $920,000 of capital projects and purchases for the new fiscal year, including about $150,000 of work at the city’s baseball fields and $400,000 in road improvements.
For the fiscal 2016 budget, which began on Oct. 1, the council members approved more than $200,000 in allocations to the capital improvements account. That money combined with $280,000 in savings from a bond refinance and $423,000 in gas tax income forms the bulk of what the council can spend this fiscal year on capital improvements, Heflin City Clerk Shane Smith told the council members.
Some of that money is already allocated, for purposes such as a new squad car for the Police Department and a payment on the new rescue truck, Smith said. But the council members still have to decide what other projects and purchases they want to fund.
Mayor Rudy Rooks requested two projects be considered — sidewalks for the increasing number of pedestrians around town and renovations of the city’s baseball fields at the Heflin Recreation Center. Rooks said he had spoken to the Parks and Recreation Department employees about replacing fences at the baseball fields and “the more we looked the bigger the project got.”
“There hasn’t been anything done there for I think probably the past 15 years,” Rooks said. “I feel like we need to do it, do it right.”
The fields have lights from 1980; drainage problems and water damage in the dugouts that need to be addressed as well as the fences, Rooks said, noting he would like to do it all as one large bid in to make it most cost-efficient, Rooks said.
“To get a contractor, to get a good price, he’s going to want to come there and do the whole project,” Rooks said.
He estimated the entire project would cost about $150,000.
“It definitely needs some work,” said Councilwoman Rhonda Green.
Councilman Shannon Roberts agreed.
Some of the $400,000 for street improvements has already been allocated, including about $134,000 to build Stephens Street as an access road and $75,000 to replace the Campbell Street bridge. Smith told the council members they would have about $80,000 for additional paving. The council members didn’t suggest any other streets for paving.
The departments requested some projects on their facilities including new bay doors and paving the parking lot at the fire department; matching grant funds for some body cameras and other equipment at the Police Department; a new roof at the recreation center and renovations of a room at City Hall to become the City Council’s meeting chambers.
In other business, the council members:
— Heard a request from Rooks to add the Friday after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday for city staff. The addition would give employees 12 days off, Smith said.
— Heard there were three bids for the city-owned Harris House off Ross Street. The highest bid was from Margaret and Ricky Cobb for $101,000.
— Heard a proposed ordinance would increase the business licensing fee from $5 to $7.
— Heard a proposed ordinance that would designate official flags the city would fly on city-owned property. The ordinance was a request from Councilman Elvin Henson who wanted to find a way to ban Confederate flags from being flown on city-owned property. The proposal lists the official flags as the U.S. flag, the state of Alabama flag, the Cleburne County flag and the city’s flag.
— Heard Alabama Power awarded the city a $2,000 grant to install a sign at Cahulga Creek Watershed.
— Heard Nick Rollins had been hired as the new superintendent of streets for the city.
The next scheduled council meeting will be Tuesday.
Staff Writer Laura Camper 256-463-2872 in Heflin, 256-235-3545 in Anniston. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.