MOUNT VERNON — City Council gave its approval for the city to advertise for bids for a new methane boiler at the wastewater treatment plant.
The $144,000 cost will be paid through a $100,000 federal stimulus grant, with $44,000 coming from the city’s water and wastewater fund.
According to Councilman Burt Hanson, chairman of the Utilities Committee, the current boiler, installed in 1985, is in deteriorating shape.
“[The new boiler] is going to be a whole lot more efficient, but it’s also kind of a maintenance thing,” he said.
The current boiler can switch between methane and natural gas heat, but has to be manually switched. The new boiler will have an automatic switchover.
The boiler heats the affluent, aiding in the decomposition process. Hanson said that due to the toxicity of the methane, the boiler pipes have corroded. In addition, the pipes are wrapped in asbestos, which will need removed.
Hanson said federal funds were received primarily because it is a green project.
Council also gave its approval for Safety-Service Director Dave Glass to advertise for bids for three new police cruisers. Councilman Mike Hillier said the vehicles will actually be purchased next year, with money from the 2009 budget.
The opportunity to bid is open to local car dealers. Glass said that in the last several years, local dealers submitted a better price than the one received through the state purchasing program.
Council approved the transfer of $17,000 to purchase new equipment for the fire department. Fire Chief Shawn Christy said the thermal imaging camera will allow firefighters to pinpoint hot spots remaining after a fire is under control.
“This will also allow us to do search and rescue quicker,” he said, explaining that the thermal camera would pinpoint a human heat source as well.
The department has three thermal imaging cameras, which Christy said are 12 to 13 years old.
City Law Director Bill Smith explained an ordinance which would allow the city to purchase tax delinquent property for the purpose of redeveloping it. The property has to be put up for sale at sheriff’s auction at least twice, with no buyers. After that, ownership of the property reverts to the county. If the property is within city limits, the city has the option to purchase the property. Any tax liens must be released before the property is conveyed to the city.
“If the person owed [taxes] signs off, the city can take possession,” said Smith. “Then it has to be used for a public purpose — redevelopment, or make it into a productive use.”
Smith said the city will not be forced to take any property it does not want. Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis said money to buy tax delinquent properties will come from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. About $1 million in NSP funds has been allocated to be divided among the city of Mount Vernon, Knox County and Richland County. The city is looking at a property on Cottage Street for possible purchase. Once bought, it would either be given to Habitat for Humanity or Metropolitan Housing. Council approved the ordinance.
In other business, council:
•Presented plaques to Dan and Teresa Shaw. The Shaws were previously announced as Volunteers of the Year, but were unable to attend the ceremony held during the Oct. 2 First Friday event. Both have been very involved with the Memorial Day Patriotic Committee and resurrecting the Memorial Day Parade, and with veterans in the county. “These are two more of the great people we have working for our city,” Mavis said when presenting the plaques.
•Accepted the decision reached between the city and the police department sergeants bargaining unit. Agreements were reached with the rest of the police department personnel and fire personnel earlier in the year, but the sergeants bargaining unit went to arbitration. Glass said the fact finder’s decision was favorable to the city. Councilman Bruce Hawkins said he felt it was a fair fact finding.
Mavis said the bid for concrete work associated with replacing the curbs and gutters for brick streets was awarded to Smith Paving of Norwalk. Smith Paving submitted a bid of $164,818, which was under the estimate.
He also said the siren at Elmwood fire station is out of service to the point it needs replaced. He said the administration is in the process of locating a replacement siren and looking for the funds to pay for it.
He noted leaf pickup is scheduled to begin the last week of October or the first week of November. In the interim, residents can take leaves to the drop-off site on Cougar Drive throughout the week, or to the compost area at the Knox County Landfill on Thayer Road on Saturdays.
Auditor Terry Scott said he will be working on restructuring some of the debt on the water treatment plant.
“The bond marked is the lowest it’s been in 30 years, so we are wanting to take advantage of that,” he said.
In addition, he said, the short-term notes on the Blackjack Road project will be due and payable in February.
Hillier said Christian Cagle of the Knox County Career Center will be working with the Heritage Centre Association to bring students downtown for job experience. Students will do various maintenance work in the downtown area.
He also inquired about the progress on the former middle school on North Mulberry Street; Glass said owner John Bechtel has the majority of the windows framed, and the glass should be arriving in the next few days for installation.