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Lanett approves 2020-21 budget

LANETT — The Lanett City Council on Monday evening gave its approval to a $23.7 million budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year. The approved budget has grant funding for the streetscape and airport projects, money for some major purchases for city departments and money to cover employee raises that were approved earlier this year.

“The continuing airport project dominates the budget,” Mayor Kyle McCoy said. “We are closing in on completing the terminal, and we are hoping the runway work is finished in 2021. That could depend on whether or not the weather slows us down. The budget is a little higher than normal, but we are pleased with it. We think it’s a good budget that meets our needs.”

It includes matching funds for a USDA grant to purchase some new police cars. The Lanett Fire & EMS Department is being budgeted approximately $63,000 for two new heart monitors, $30,000 for five new air packs, and $124,000 for three new power stretchers for ambulances. The budget includes $225,000 for some needed upgrades in the Electrical Department, $40,000 for some upgrades in the Gas Department, $80,000 for a new street sweeper for the Street Department and new software that will allow genealogy researchers to more rapidly find the names of people buried in Lanett cemeteries.

“It’s a good, solid budget,” McCoy said. “I am proud of the way we are continuing to monitor the budget process. We are always looking for ways to save money.”

“I think we are in good shape overall,” McCoy added. “We are not putting anyone on furlough. We are excited about the direction we are heading.”

McCoy thanked the city hall staff for their input on the budget, and he also thanked members of the current council for their support over the last four years. A new council will be sworn in for the next four years at the Monday, Nov. 2 council meeting. It will look the same except for one exception. Tifton Dobbs will take over the District 5 seat currently held by John Motley. 

Motley had filled the seat for a few weeks, succeeding his late mother, Shirley Motley, who had been on the council several terms after retiring as city clerk.

Motley said that council service had been a good experience for him and thanked McCoy and the other council members for giving him the opportunity to serve. He said that it was especially meaningful to him to have held the same seat his mother had held.

McCoy presented him a plaque thanking him for his time on the council.

“It has been an honor to serve,” Motley said. “I am always on call if I can ever assist this city in any way.”

The mayor thanked council members Tony Malone, Jamie Heard, Angelia Thomas and Charles Looser for their help over the last four years.

“Anyone who has not had their head in the sand over the past four years can see that we are in a better place today than we were four years ago,” the mayor said. “I am sure all of you were hearing constant complaints about the mill site and what were we going to do to clean it up. Now everyone is asking us what comes next after Tractor Supply. We have made significant progress over the last four years. We’ve done that by purchasing the mill site, cleaning it up and bringing in Tractor Supply. We have done that with our downtown project and the airport improvements. We will soon open a new terminal that will be one of very few anywhere with an economic development office. We have improved both our infrastructure and our finances. Standard and Poor’s recently gave us an excellent rating. They told us it would have been even better had it not been for COVID. I am so proud of our employees. They are out there on Saturdays and Sundays if they feel they need to be.”

McCoy pointed to the work of the Electrical Department this past Saturday at Kroger.

“There was a power outage there at 8 p.m.,” he said. “They were there until 4 a.m. replacing three feeder lines. The Kroger management was tickled with what they did. They told me that at some of their other stores it might take two or three days to take care of a problem like that.”

In action taken on Monday, the council approved a resolution to apply for state and federal matching funds for the airport improvement project.

“This allows us to seek grants this fiscal year,” Mayor McCoy said.

The council also approved a resolution to purchase property located at 302 North Lanier Avenue, adjacent to the Jane Farrar Event Center. The lot contains a vacant building.

It is being purchased from David Ennis for $40,000. Council Member Angelia Thomas asked what the city was going to do with the property.

“We will probably demolish the building,” McCoy said. “There’s a sewer line under the building that needs to be repaired. It’s going to be a hazard if we don’t do something.”

The site will likely be cleaned up and planted with grass. Similar action was taken on the opposite side of the block. Several years ago an abandoned house was torn down, the site cleaned up and grassed over.

The council recognized Code Enforcement Officer Teddy Morris, who recently earned state-level certification as a municipal revenue officer. He completed a course through the University of Alabama to earn the certification.

“It’s a course that allows city employees to better themselves and the city,” McCoy said.

Police Chief Johnny Wood informed the council that a grant sought by the Lanett Police Department had been approved at the federal level. It’s a 50/50 matching grant that allows the LPD to acquire some new bulletproof vests.

“What it means is that we can replace all of our bulletproof vests at half price,” Wood said.

Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carrie Royster attended the meeting with a group of her junior ambassadors. They included Chambers Academy student Kaylyn Keebler, Valley High students Treanna Bridges and Alyric Wright and Springwood students Crawford Fuller, Dixon Fuller, Caden Hoiness and Sam Plant.

The council recognized the week of Oct. 27-30 as Red Ribbon Week in the city. It’s part of a national alcohol, tobacco, drug and violence prevention awareness campaign.

The 2020 theme is “Be happy, be brave and be drug free.”

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