Jackson County Times

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

City of Marianna Hopes to “Go Green”

Applying for grant to replace downtown street lighting and lighting in City Hall
By Sid Riley

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Marianna City Commission the Commissioners approved allowing the City Manager, Jim Dean, and staff to submit an application for a grant from the Department of Energy for $165,100 which would be used to replace the existing mercury-vapor street lights in Marianna, and the lighting in the City Hall facility, to more energy efficient lighting systems.

The change is anticipated to save $8,000-$9,000 per year in electrical cost for the city.

Job Upgrade in Police Department - At the request of Chief Hayes Baggett and City Manager Jim Dean, the Commissioners approved upgrading the number two job in the police department to the title “Administrative Assistant to the Police Chief”, and increase the pay grade from a #13 to a #16, thus significantly increasing the salary and grade of the job.

Discussion on Personnel Policies - City Manager Jim Dean presented several changes in the existing personnel policies contained in a newly edited Personnel Manual for City Employees. These changes deal primarily with the accrual of vacation days and sick days for employees, and the procedures for the City to “buy back” some of these accruals when the employee wishes.

Several long time city employees were at the meeting to participate in these discussions. Some of the more controversial elements of the new plan relate to the policies on “sick days” accrual and buy back. Commissioner Jim Wise expressed his opinion that the purpose of the sick days was to provide an element of job and income security to an employee if and when they were sick, especially for an extended problem. “It is not intended to be extra days of vacation or time off, it is for sickness. If you are not sick you should not use them”, Wise stated. Commissioner Roger Clay voiced his dissent to this approach. “These days belong to the workers, if they are about to lose them, then they should take the time off. They are a benefit and belong to the workers,” Clay argued.

The primary problem area is in how the new policies impact several long time employees. There is little complaint relating to the adoption of the new system for new employees. The changes would save the city approximately $40,000 per year in costs not spent in buying back accrued vacation and sick days. “These changes are budget driven”, Dean explained.

Engineering Services for Stimulus funded road project- It appears the City is running into problems with the Federal bureaucracy as it prepares to utilize available stimulus funding to complete “Phase Five” of the Kelson Avenue reworking plan. These funds are scheduled to enable revamping of the west end of Kelson, from the point where the street intersects with Lafayette, near McDonalds, to the beginning point of the resurfacing which has already been accomplished.

The problem relates to requirements for certification and policies required by the Feds for the project engineering firm. Meeting these requirements would present a problem for the engineering firm which has been in charge of the Kelson project thus far. Thus the City must now execute a RFP for a new engineering firm to manage this last part of the project.

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