Council hears skate park request

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 21, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; After learning the skate park they hung out at each afternoon had been demolished, a group of teenagers voiced their concerns to the City Council Thursday night.

Brittany Carter, along with a group of her friends and family, came before the council requesting a skate park be rebuilt. Without the facility, the skaters have had to resort to skating on the streets where they are unwelcome by business owners and at risk for injury.

Mark Pettus, director of Parks and Recreation, said the park had been put up nearly 10 years ago, after completing studies to see what sporting trends were becoming popular. In that time, the skate park had become expensive to maintain both because of vandalism and repairs, Pettus said.

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Carter also proposed the youth in the community who use the park be given the chance to raise funds for a new one or even given the responsibility of maintaining it.

After hearing Carter&8217;s concerns, Mayor Cecil P. Williamson suggested she take her proposal to the Park and Recreation Board.

In the meantime, the council agreed to allow the students to help clean up the remaining park area, which could be used for skating until another structure or location was decided upon.

City Employee Raises

During the last month, every financial concern brought before the council has been tethered by the issue of funding a pay raise for city employees. At Thursday&8217;s meeting, Councilman Melvin Yelverton presented the recommendation of the personnel committee to the council, which was to give all city employees a 3 percent raise effective Jan. 1.

Not all of the council members, although in favor of raises, were so quick to agree with the recommendation, however. As Councilman Charles Jones put it, &8220;I would rather pay for something with money in hand than money I don&8217;t have.&8221;

Other financial concerns may have also played a part in the hesitation of the council to grant the pay raise.

According to Councilman Woody Collins, for the last three years, the council has been able to grant pay raises. The first two of those three years saw a $500,000 and $400,000 surplus, respectively. The last year, however, saw a $600,000 loss for the city. Adding to this historic trend, Councilman Jack Cooley said revenues for this quarter are about 50 percent less than they were projected for this time of year.

Councilman Thomas Moore suggested taking previous years&8217; surplus monies, which are put back into the general fund, to fund pay raises. Collins again was skeptical.

The council voted to table the issue of pay raises until the reports for the first quarter of the fiscal year had come in, at which time the issue of pay raises would be addressed again.

Fire Department Funding

At the previous council meeting, the council granted Fire Chief Ron Few $22,103 to pay for training expenses for six new recruits, who were inducted into the department last week. The training funds were budgeted in the previous fiscal year, but were not expended due to the fact the city did not receive a bill until after the fiscal year had been closed out.

In addition to these funds, Few requested funds for three new recruits to attend fire college in January.

The council approved both requests unanimously.

In other business, the council:

Approved the appointment of Chuck Smith of Rock-Tenn to the Marengo County Economic Development Authority.

Approved a one time pay adjustment for city employees.

Approved a change to the job description of the city horticulturist to include requirements of having either a state certification or four-year degree and having the salary be negotiable based on experience.