The lines run through a drainage ditch at the intersection of Warren St. and U.S. 271 S., near LaFinca Restaurant and across from the Dairy Queen.
City Manager Jeff Ellington said that the pipes are PVC with steel over part of them. The steel was to protect and reinforce the PVC pipes where they cross the ditch, but since they were installed, the ditch has widened, leaving PVC exposed at each end of both.
“They could easily be broken,” Ellington said, and this would cut off and possibly contaminate water to that section of town.
“This is an emergency-type repair,” he said.
They will hire an outside firm to do the repairs at a cost of $22,650, which will be paid out of contingency funds.
Ellington told The Mirror later that “we don’t have the personnel or the equipment to do the repair ourselves.”
He said that, for example, when the sewer line is repaired, any spilled sewage will have be collected from the ditch and disposed of properly.
He said that when the water line is repaired, water will temporarily be cut off in that area.
The council also approved purchase of a tractor with a boom mower. It is a large tractor with a flexible, almost robotic arm with a mower head.
He said it could reach behind fences and up banks, and will be very useful to the Public Works Department.
The cost will be $111,735.
“This is a lot of money, but this piece of equipment will last a long time,” Ellington said. He estimated that it would last at least 10 years, and said it was something that the Public Works Department would use three or four times a week.
They are buying the tractor, in lieu of hiring additional personnel.
Ellington said that the cost of about $11,000 a year spread out over 10 years was a lot less than hiring one additional employee.
“And it doesn’t have sick leave or holidays,” said Councilwoman Teathel Hollis.
The tractor, a John Deer 6105, will have an enclosed air conditioned and heated cab.
The mower head will be a Tiger Bengal FL50 MBG.
The device will be counter-balanced by weights on the side of the tractor opposed the boom arm.
It can be operated by one person.
Brian Rogers, Public Works Director, recommended the purchase. He said that he had checked with Gregg County Pct. 1 and they had a similar model.
“I think that it would be a benefit to the city to clean rights of way in a safe manner,” Rogers said.
In other business, the council established the position of records management officer and custodian of records for the city. City Secretary Kathy Hoover is already records management officer, but said that the custodian duties needed to be added to her position.
The council also formally adopted a public information policy, establishing rules for submitting, receiving and processing requests for open records.
Ellington said that providing open records is state law, but the city needed to formally adopt a policy so city personnel would know what to do. He said they get several open records requests.
The council also approved recording insurance proceeds for repair of a damaged radio tower antenna. The $7,166 payment will go into the city’s contingency fund.
They also recorded a payment of $1,200 for damages done to the lawn of the Gilmer Civic Center by the circus that was in town a few weeks ago.
“For some reason, they set up in front of the Civic Center, instead of at the side,” Ellington said. He said that the city had intercepted circus officials before they left town, and they agreed to the payment.
The council authorized the sale of surplus city vehicles, equipment and miscellaneous items.
They include a non-working soda machine, a 2002 Honda car, a 1999 Ford Crown Victoria which had been used by the assistant police chief, and two wrecked police cars, and “a lot of stuff,” Ellington said.
They will be sold on-line through Auctioneer Express.
The council approved Police Chief James Grunden’s recommendation to add reserve officers to his department.
Patrolman Larry Sewell, who is retiring as a street officer, will remain as a reserve, Grunden said.
The council approved spending $8,475 to buy a new power pack for the Fire Department’s Jaws of Life, which is used to dismantle vehicles in rescue situations.
Ellington said the Volunteer Fire Department is applying for a grant, and if they receive it, the city payment would be less.
The council approved replacing the flooring in the building next to the City Annex, off U.S. 271 South, which houses the East Texas Medical Center EMS for Gilmer. ETMC rents the facility from the city, and repairs are the city’s responsibility.
Ellington showed the council a piece of the wooden flooring, which he said had dry rot, and broke it in his hands.
“It’s gone,” he said.
They accepted a bid of $6,000 to replace the flooring, with another $900 for fans which Ellington said could help keep moisture from building up and causing future dry rot problems. They also approved money to repair wiring.
The maximum for the whole package was set at $9,500 or less.
Ms. Hollis said, “we need to fix this immediately, because someone could’ve fell through and hurt themselves.”
Following the regular meeting, the council held a work session regarding potential projects.
Ellington said that the city will pay off a few debts in 2015, and “if we so choose, we can issue replacement debt.”
The city’s financial adviser, John Moore of Southwest Securities, estimated that they could get $1.9 million at 4 percent interest for 12 years.
Ellington said that could go toward work on city streets “which need it most.”
He said that would begin much-needed street repairs, but wouldn’t be enough for all streets.
They also discussed possible work at the city’s sewer plant.