By DAVID GREEN
A tie-breaking vote by the mayor led to a contract for mowing at Morenci’s two cemeteries.
Only two bids were submitted for the mowing service following council’s decision to lay off the cemetery sexton in an effort to balance the budget for the next fiscal year.
T&R Total Lawn Care offered to do the work from July 1 through Oct. 19 at a cost of $1,575 per mowing. Deo Lawn Service of Clayton submitted a bid of $18,068.75 for the entire season. Councilors estimated the cost at $15,000 in the 2013-14 budget.
In the end, council members Greg Braun, Tracy Schell and Robert Jennings opposed a motion to hire Deo, but mayor Keith Pennington joined Brenda Spiess, Jeff Bell and Rebecca Berger to take the Deo bid. Deo also mows for the City of Hudson.
Berger noted that the T&R bid would cost well over $20,000 if the mowing were needed every week.
City supervisor Lonnie Vanderpool was asked for an opinion.
“If we only knew what Mother Nature was going to do, we could figure it out,” he said. “It’s a gamble.”
There will be many weeks when it has to be done every week, he said.
City administrator Renée Schroeder suggested hiring someone at minimum wage to do the job. Councilor Jeff Bell wondered if both bids could be rejected to see if either firm would offer a price closer to what was budgeted. That would leave the DPW crew to handle the work. Vanderpool noted that he will be one person short through the layoff and one worker has vacation scheduled. Vanderpool said he is already working through his vacation in order to get necessary work done.
When the grass is growing rapidly, Vanderpool said, mowing and trimming are a steady job for the sexton.
Schell suggested offering the job to the recycling center employee who will be laid off July 1. She figured a part-time employee could do the job for far less than $18,000.
Vanderpool said the cost of gas, parts and maintenance would also have to be included, but Schell said there should be plenty of money remaining for that from the $15,000 budgeted. Bell added that there’s also the risk of a mower breaking down.
Mayor Pennington said the Deo bid wasn’t that far off from the budgeted amount and Vanderpool questioned whether a lower bid would be submitted.
BRUSH—Vanderpool told council that the final brush pickup was completed. Anything placed in the road now—which is illegal—will become an issue for the police department to handle.
FESTIVAL—Town and Country Festival committee members received praise from the mayor, from the administrator and from Vanderpool who was pleased with the good clean-up job.
Committee member Dale Long returned thanks by acknowledging the help from the police, DPW and EMS employees.
Committee member Bill Foster said there are some electrical issues remaining that he would like to discuss with an electrician. He mentioned that the rodeo will probably not be part of the festival next year because of the cost. He’s heard suggestions for a return of truck or tractor pulls.
BMX—Council voted to terminate the lease for the former BMX track now that the area has been leveled and cleaned.
GOALS—Bell reviewed goals of council’s Finance and Legal committee. The fee schedule for building and electrical permits will be examined in July and an aesthetic code for the downtown is being addressed by the planning commission.
The new phone service is nearly complete and the city website re-design is progressing. Additional interviews for the city administrator job have been completed.