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Elizabethton City Council readies agenda for February meeting

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com

As the days are continued to be marked off the 2021 calendar, the Elizabethton City Council once again is preparing to meet to address the business that pertains to the city as the regularly-scheduled February meeting is slated to take place via Zoom on Thursday, February 11, at 6 p.m.

For those citizens who would either like to make a public comment or just tune in to listen, the Zoom instructions for the link and dial-in options will be on the City’s website.

Following the traditional setup of the meeting, after the meeting is called to order by Mayor Curt Alexander, the invocation will be provided by Mayor Pro Tem Bill Carter followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll call will be conducted by Preston Cobb and the January meeting minutes will be approved.

A Proclamation by Mayor Alexander recognizing the retirement of Don Frost will take place and then citizens will have the opportunity to address the City Council as instructions will be provided by City Manager Daniel Estes on how to do so.

Estes then will provide the Council with reports and updates from various departments and answer any questions. With no board, commissions, or committee appointments on the slate for February, the meeting will proceed to the business portion of the agenda.

In old business, the Council will hold the public hearing and second reading on an ordinance to amend the Elizabethton City Schools fiscal year 2020/21 budget amendment #1 for the Federal Projects Fund.

If Council approves on second reading, the budget’s first change would result in $1,587,434.02 added to the initial budget moving the total to $3,417,047.02 which does not change the City’s General Fund Transfer.

Moving into the new business, City Council will consider and act on a resolution authorizing the City of Elizabethton to participate as a plaintiff in the Drug Dealer Liability Act Lawsuit and to approve a retainer agreement with Branstetter, Stranch, and Jennings PLLC to represent the City of Elizabethton.

The history of the lawsuit stems from a 2018 suit brought by multiple District Attorneys General across the state against several opioid manufactures under the state’s 2010 Drug Dealer Liability Act.

The suit alleges that these opioid manufacturers, specifically Purdue Pharma, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Mallinckrodt, were fully aware that their products were being used illegally.

After state appellate court review, it was determined that the District Attorneys are not proper parties to bring suit, but that County and City governments could participate as plaintiffs against the opioid manufacturers instead of the Attorney General.

In order to participate in the lawsuit, cities and counties must have a resolution passed by their respective governing bodies. If the City Council so wishes, this firm can be retained to represent the City of Elizabethton’s interests in the suit along with other plaintiffs.

The retainer agreement is based on a contingent fee where the law firm would advance all fees and costs and if successful, those fees and costs will be deducted from the amount awarded by the court but none are owed by if the suit is unsuccessful.

Council will also be considering and acting on a resolution to approve an annual support services contract with Doe River Technology Services, LLC.

Several first readings of ordinance amendments are also to be heard during the meeting.

The Council will have the opportunity to approve a grant agreement for the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Community Facilities Grant which was applied for in January of 2020 for the planned purchase of the City’s new Triple-Combination Pump Fire Truck.

Following application, the USDA RD approved the grant in the amount of $155,300. If Council approves the resolution, the reduction would mean that the $155,300 would be applied to the purchase price of $495,000 bringing the total owed to $339,700.

Another important piece of new business is consideration and action on a resolution to approve an application to apply for a community development block grant (CDBG) for water line rehabilitation which was requested by Johann Coetzee.

The grant would allow for the continued aggressive program to rebuild water lines using operating funds as well as grant funds to overcome a very high water loss in its water distribution system.

If approved, the City would be seeking $630,000 of CDBG funds and in turn, would have to provide local match funds of up to $85,909 which will be budgeted in the Water/Sewer Fund.

At the conclusion of the City Council meeting, the Elizabethton Beverage Board would come to order to consider a request for a temporary beer permit by Frankie Bailey, Owner of The Coffee Company, 444 E. Elk Avenue, for a Valentine’s Evening Event on Saturday, February 13.

This would be in partnership with Riverside Taphouse and run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.