The Quitman City Council met Monday night. Upon approving the last month’s minutes and treasurer’s report, Mayor Cyndi Kerr read a letter From Fire Chief Ryan Davis, because he was unable to attend. He said he and others in the department have big plans in the works to turn this department into something great. They are working to get the stations cleaned and organized so they can invite the public to come see what the QFD are all about. He is working with the ISO to get everything in order and back in compliance.
Mayor Kerr then asked to move the Ballfield Contract to the beginning of the agenda. There has been some misunderstanding with how the ½ cents sales tax is divided up between not only the ball field but other community needs, such as the library, city parks and to begin planning for a community center. Kerr said the sales tax is not only for the ball field complex. The sales tax brings in about $80,000 in revenue. There were a couple citizens who are with the sports commission who brought issues about the contract with the city.
There was a question regarding a tournament coming the end of March and whether the fees will go to the commission or the city. It was answered that it goes to the commission. The same was also asked about utilities during these kinds of events, and the answer was that money comes to the commission since they are responsible for those bills. The city has spent $22,880.46 doing dirt work, electrical work, utilities, mowing, dragging and supplies. In 2018 they spent a little over $75,845.45 total, on the sports complex. They received a grant to help paying for the parking lot, but the city paid about $15,000. Jenny Palmer, who represented the youth program said that they didn’t feel the city had dragged the field and lined it every day which they expected them to. The council did not feel that it was their responsibility to do that every day, they had been doing it twice a week, but not the way the youth program wanted it done. A question was asked about why the youth program had to mow the fields while the city mowed the library and other properties. The youth program was under the impression the city was going to take care of that. The city felt they had done what they were required to, but again stressed the city was already spending quite a bit on this program, not managed by the city. Mayor Kerr tried to explain that the city had done the things they were supposed to but they could not have an employee waiting until 2 or 3 p.m. to find out whether the field needed to be dragged and lined, because that employee works from 7:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m.
Much discussion regarding the money that the youth program had paid money to the city for certain upkeep of the fields and they were questioning whether or not it was done as it should have been. The city gave a list of the monies that the city had spent in 2018 which was $22,880.46 on the ball fields, just so the kids could play. This did not include many expenses, the council estimated about $75,845.45 was actually spent over a years time.
The Council was told the hot water heater in the concession stand wasn’t working properly to the sink, neither was the heater. Mayor Kerr then went through each of the concerns and the city council was asked to voice any of their concerns.
The Youth program presented figures for their income and expenditures from 2018 as well. Included in their expenses were the charge they paid to the city in 2018, which is waived for 2019, It also included $7,885
For payments for umpires, $4,865 and $3,020 to concession and gate workers because according to Palmer, one of four people present to represent the Youth Sports Program, “We could not find volunteers who would show up and then, we had money missing.” They showed income of fees $3,990 at costs of $50 for 1st child and $25 for the 2nd child. There are 15 teams playing in the program. If each team has an average of 9 players, the income would be $6,750 at the full $50. If 75 players paid $50 it would be $3,750 and 65 players at $25 would total $1,625 for a total of $5,375. The representatives of the program were asked had they held any fundraisers to help with their costs or had they applied for any grants.
The Youth Sports Program is a separate entity that the City is not over. It is a non-profit that functions apart from the City. In the contract for 2018, the City agrees to let the Quitman Summer Youth Program use the fields and concession stand at no charge. They will also have exclusive rights to collect money for any and all ball games and tournaments during this time, collection of admission and concession stand profits. In exchange the program will incur the costs of utilities, supplies, cleaning of the restrooms and concession stand plus maintenance of the fields at the Sports Complex during the months of March through the middle of June. This includes, but not limited to, mowing, weed eating, picking up trash, dragging and lining fields. Supplies include anything needed for the fields, concession stand and restrooms. The City will mow outside of the fences. QHS will have the right to have all their high school games at the complex and will be required to mow, drag and line their fields, as well as buy their field supplies. The City reserves the right to use the fields at any given time and agree to be considerate of the scheduling of ball games.
It was also brought up that Quitman fest is held each year to get money for the ball fields. It used to have the ball teams helping out by having games and by volunteering their time. Since it is for the ball fields more of the ones who benefit from the ball fields should be helping with Quitman fest, is the Council’s feeling.
Mayor Kerr said, “We don’t understand how people feel we aren’t putting in to the ball field, when we have put all this money into it.”
The ambulance department was well represented at the meeting. The ambulance department has been restructured and now is directed by Adam Weiser, the assistant director is Logan Lowe and Jay Tolley, Driver and Volunteer firefighter. Ryan Davis was approved as Fire Chief with Scott Duncan as assistant Chief.
Mayor Kerr discussed the LOPFI, and will be revisited at a later date, due to the increased cost.
The traffic light was discussed and several solutions are being worked on with the highway department.
Discussion was then made about having a Planning and Zoning Commission. Kerr asked the council to think about this and they would discuss more at the next meeting.
The water rate issue has been being tabled at recent meetings. Kerr passed out a list of what other cities pay to compare. The water rate that the city pays has increased and while they don’t want to increase, they must pass the increase on to the consumers. The average consumer will see an increase of .65 cents per bill. This will be a .50 cent increase on the base and .15 increase per thousand gallons. The last increase was in 2016.