The Greeneville Council of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously approved a bond issue for the Greeneville Water Commission at its meeting on Tuesday.
Alderman Kristin Girton was absent from the meeting due to testing positive for COVID-19.
The board authorized the issuance and sale of up to $9 million in sewer tax bonds to fund Capitol improvements to the sewer system and wastewater treatment facility. .
According to Greeneville Water Commission Superintendent Laura White, projects expected to be funded in the future include the installation of a screw press at the sewage treatment plant to replace aging centrifuges. and treating solid waste, as well as replacing and rehabilitating sewer lines through the Greenville Sewer. system, including downtown.
“I congratulate the two members of the Water Commission who supported this. I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do,” Greeneville Mayor WT Daniels said. “Another member who I won’t name said he thought being debt free was a badge of honor. More like a badge of stupidity, if you ask me.
Water commissioners Johnny Honeycutt and Doug DeBusk supported the measure at the Jan. 25 meeting of water commissioners. Commissioner Joe Wagoner did not support the idea of a link to debt servicing.
The Water Commission would be fully responsible for paying debt service payments on the bond, not the City of Greeneville.
The recommended bond would be a 20-year bond with a fixed interest rate of around 2.3%, with an annual debt service of around $560,000 per year.
According to the Water Commission’s five-year capital projects plan, it will need about $8.2 million in revenue each year to pay for the projects. However, the utility currently only generates about $4.1 million in revenue each year.
“If we try to keep paying cash for these projects, we won’t be able to fund them,” White told the College of Mayor and Aldermen. “You don’t pay for your house all at once. You live in your house while you pay for it.
According to White, the bond process will spread the cost of the projects over the life of the projects utility. Current sewer customers will not be required to pay in full for projects that will benefit future sewer customers in years to come.
“I know people are complaining that the streets are rough, but there’s a lot of work going on in the city right now and there’s no way to put this stuff in the ground without tearing down the streets. “Daniels said. “Thank goodness we have the vision of the Water Commission to deal with this stuff.”
The council filed changes to the City of Greeneville health care plans.
A possible change in coverage that the board could make to save money and avoid increasing plan costs and deductibles would be to remove any spouse from the plans when the spouse has access to the primary coverage of his employer. The city could also consider a change that would end the family’s eligibility for coverage when the city retiree’s eligibility for coverage ends.
The City of Greeneville paid $1.84 million in health care costs in 2016 and $2.3 million in 2021 in health care costs.
The city is trying to find a way to keep costs from rising further.
“We’ve been working on this for a while and we’ve gotten a lot of good information, but if I could look at the blueprint designs that other communities have it would help me see where we are now. Our costs have increased by 20% over the past three years. We have to do something,” Alderman Cal Doty said. “It’s not sustainable to continue to operate this way. Also, I don’t think Alderman Girton should be left out of this decision.
Alderman Scott Bullington said he wanted to have more communication with city workers before making a decision.
“We need our HR to talk to them and we need a Trinity Benefits rep to set up a Zoom meeting in the morning and a Zoom meeting in the evening to answer some questions from employees when they are not at work. work,” Bullington said. “Miscommunication was one of the biggest issues we had because employees didn’t get a chance to ask questions. With the changes coming, they deserve an opportunity to ask them.
Alderman Tim Teague told council he wanted to make sure any changes made would not need to be reconsidered a few years down the line.
According to Teague, the city needs to be certain that the changes that are made address long-term issues with the viability of the city’s health insurance costs so that the council doesn’t have to revisit the issue next year or the years after.
Council also asked City Administrator Todd Smith to check with City Attorney Ron Woods to ensure the city did not need to take action due to the non- application of a spousal exclusion resolution that was passed in 2010.
The resolution apparently instituted a spousal exclusion for employees hired after 2010.
According to a memo Smith sent to the aldermen, the council did not enforce the policy it apparently adopted on October 1, 2010.
“For some reason the City has not created spouses for employees hired after October 1, 2010. The first question the BMA should consider is: should the City change our operational practices and start creating spouses for employees hired after October 1, 2010? If not, then the BMA must rescind this resolution from 2010. This rescission could be in conjunction with any changes you make to the current insurance scheme,” Smith told Aldermen in the memo.
The council asked Smith to ensure that a representative of Trinity Health Insurance is present at the next meeting of the council of burgomasters and aldermen to answer questions from council members.
“What I’m hearing is that we need to do a little more work,” Daniels said when the case was filed.
The board also reappointed Susan Brandon to the Greeneville-Greene County Public Library Board.
Items regarding loan funds for the City of Greeneville School System Energy Replacement Project have been removed from the agenda as the city awaits approval from the State Comptroller’s Office, according to Smith.