Officials updated on status of Fulton cemetery

by Benita Fuzzell

Fulton’s City Commission approved by Municipal Order 2022-25 Monday evening, to declare two properties at 409 and 411 Fourth St. as surplus, and authorized the City Manager to accept sealed bids on both properties.

Following the approval from Mayor David Prater and Commissioners Elaine Forrester, Darcy Linn, Jeff Vaughn and Cubb Stokes, City Manager Mike Gunn explained, in an effort to promote residential growth within the city, the bid review process will give preference in consideration to individuals who submit a bid with a proposal to construct a one- or two-family residential structure on the property.

Gunn shared with the officials, that many of the lots now owned by the city would not accommodate the construction of a family dwelling, however these two lots would be within the size required for the construction.

In new business listed, Mayor Prater was authorized by the commission to execute a one year temporary lease agreement with Verizon Wireless for the use of property located around 350 Browder St., for a temporary cellular tower site effective Aug. 26, 2022.

Gunn explained the tower would not be permanent at the location, as a permanent tower would be constructed while the lease, at $3000 per year to be paid to the city, is in force.

The 2022 City Bike Walk Plan, developed for the city by the Purchase District Health Department, was approved, with Gunn to research funding options available.

A number of housekeeping entries on the agenda were approved, including the Resolution 22-10 adopting the 2023-2027 Fulton County Solid Waste Plan and Area of Designation; Municipal Order 2022-32 to authorize the Mayor to sign the Fiscal Year 2023 Agreement for Operation of the Stream Gauge Station at the Bayou De Chien Creek, with the United States Department of the Interior; and the City Manager’s authorization to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Fulton Rotary Club.

Gunn reported the Solid Waste Plan is customarily executed by the city, and pertains to projects such as the collection of used tires for disposal.

The Stream Gauge Station at Bayou De Chien Agreement for Operation requires a $9,000 annual fee from the city, and the Department of the Interior provides $3900 annually for the agreement. The station provides alerts to the city’s wastewater lagoon in the event the stream is too high.

Pertaining to the Rotary Club MOU, Gunn said the Club had previously provided grant funding for the Farmers Market restroom facilities, and effective Aug. 31, the Rotary Club had agreed to provide grant funding for landscaping in the same area.

Municipal Order 2022-31 was approved, to authorize execution by the Mayor for an Interlocal Agreement for Automatic Assistance for Fire Response between Union City, Tenn. and the City of Fulton.

Fire Chief Jeremy Martin, present for the meeting, said the Department currently has agreements with other Departments including South Fulton, Water Valley, Hickman and Fulton County Rescue. He explained although many rural Departments are experiencing shortages with staff, all departments are willing to provide assistance when possible, for apparatus and personnel.

Gunn provided the officials with information as to the 2022 Tax Rate Comparisons for the City, with data reflecting an increase in 2022 Assessments, from 2021 Assessments for Real Property Estimates at $64,247,220, up to $68,060,629 in 2022 Real Property Estimates.

The 2022 Personal Property (Tangibles) Estimates for 2022 reflected a decrease from 2021, from $15,809,925 in 2021, to $14,177,727 in 2022 for Personal Property.

Gunn explained, should the City opt to take the Comp Rate for 2022, at 0.3190 for Real Property, per $100 assessed value, and 0.4343 for Personal Property, per $100 of assessed value, total projected tax revenue would be $278,687.27, an increase of $15,813.27. Those totals would be reflected with no change to the current Real Property Rate, and an increase from 0.3673 to 0.4343 for Personal Property.

Gunn recommended the City take the Comp rate for 2022, with no action taken.

The City Manager was authorized through Municipal Order to hire Stormy Travis as a pat time Administrative Assistant at the Fulton Police Department, effective Aug. 23. Gunn reported she will perform administrative duties for the department, working approximately 23 hours per week.

In regard to city board appointments, Wayne Lohaus was reappointed to serve on the Fulton Housing Board and Cubb Stokes was reappointed to serve on the Fulton Industrial Development Authority, F.I.D.A.

Discussion took place regarding recent concerns and complaints received about the condition of the city’s cemeteries and ditches along the southern end of Wells Avenue.

Gunn said the city had received complaints in regard to the upkeep of the cemeteries. He reported currently the Public Works Department mows approximately 200 acres during mowing season, and the use of inmate labor for mowing is more complicated administratively than it was previously.

“We now have to have staff members certified to oversee the inmate labor, and there are restrictions as to where the inmates may be allowed to work. We are now having to use water, sewer and gas technicians to mow the cemeteries. When we went out for bids, before, for mowing the cemeteries, it was going to cost about $8000 per month, just for the cemeteries. We just do not have the manpower right now,” Gunn said.

He reported the cemeteries have now been mowed.

“It could almost be a full time job, just to mow the cemeteries,” he said.

He reported there is no revenue stream for cemetery maintenance. Although there is a trust designated for cemetery care, currently with an approximate balance of $73,000, that balance could be depleted in a short amount of time, with the cost estimates of mowing by a contracted party.

As to the ditches at the south end of Wells Avenue, Gunn said the ditches are the responsibility of the property owner.

Commissioner Stokes noted that his property contains a ditch, and he maintains that portion of his property, as do other residents. However, Stokes added that in the event the city’s ditches should become filled with debris, the city could assist in cleaning them out.

City Attorney Allison Whitledge updated the Commission on action to be taken against a commercial property owner, with regard to a delinquent water bill, now 90 days past due. She reported currently, $5000 is past due on the account, and she intended to proceed with collections action, for a judgement agains the commercial property owner.

Both Gunn and Whitledge said they will avoid cut-off of service for the tenants residing on the commercial property.