Grayson City Council entered into the first reading of their 2018 tax levy ordinance during their regular meeting last Tuesday, but it was holiday pay that really got council animated.

City Clerk Darlene Simmons sought clarification on how to handle holiday payroll in situations where employees work the actual holiday, but the observed holiday falls on a different day of the week.

The situation in question arose because Veteran's Day, a federally recognized holiday, fell on Sunday this year. Because of this the observed day was on Monday, when city offices were closed. Most city employees had Monday off and were awarded 8 hours of pay for the day.

One police officer, however, who worked the actual holiday on Sunday, was asking for double time for his work day.

Simmons argued that because the observed holiday was Monday, which the office had off, he should receive pay for the Monday holiday, but should not be awarded double time for his Sunday shift. Doing so, she said, would result in the officer essentially receiving triple time.

Some council members, including Duane Suttles, argued that the officer should receive double time for Sunday in addition to Monday pay, because while everyone else spent the weekend with their families, that officer was on duty. Simmons said she didn't care how the council chose to handle it, but that she needed clarification on the policy and would like it to be reflected in the policy.

Police Chief Kevin McDavid said the police department was a special case, as officers don't get the Monday off when the rest of the city offices are closed. McDavid said the officer should receive double time for Sunday, and that other officers should also receive eight hours for Sunday, but that the policy giving other city employees Monday off only applied to police administrative staff, such as himself. McDavid suggested amending the current policy to insert the word 'administrative' before 'staff' which would settle the issue for the police and other essential departments that did not get observed holidays during the week off.

Councilperson Pam Nash made the motion, which council approved unanimously.

Council also entered into the first reading of an ordinance setting 2018 tax rates. Choosing the compensating rate for 2018 would set tax rates at .1920, a reduction in taxes that would generate an estimated $371,174 in revenue. Choosing the 4% allowed rate, at .1990, would increase tax rates and generate an estimated $384,707. Other options included using the same rate as 2017, with .1970 for personal property and tangibles and .1960 in real property, with no change in rates and generating an estimated $379,230 in taxes. The fourth option was to use the same rate for real property as 2017, .1960, and decreasing tangibles to .1960, generating an estimated revenue of $378,907.

Council ultimately went with option four, setting both real property and tangibles at a rate of .1960 on each $100 of taxable personal property. In addition, the ordinance set a rate of .1768 on each $100 for automobiles and boats within the city of Grayson.

Council also discussed the issue with broken sewage lines affecting the tourism cabin and Grayson Galley and Art Center. Old sewage pipe infrastructure serving the two building has collapsed. The Tourism Board received an estimate for the necessary work that totaled $19,150 with $14,500 for boring and placing a 4 inch plastic line to replace the collapsed pipes, and $4,650 for new sewer lines from the gallery to the cabin. These estimates included the cost of traffic permits, traffic control, grouting the manhole, as well as cutting across the Park Street entrance, excavation, pipe installation, rock bedding and backfill, removing spoils, permit and inspection.

Council, however, chose to take no action after Mayor George Steele communicated his concern that the city may not legally be allowed to pay for the repairs, because they have deeded those properties to the tourism board. Steele provided council with a description of the property conveyed by the city to tourism in their meeting packets.

Suttles said that Tourism asking the city to take care of this bill was akin to someone purchasing a home from him and then, five years later, coming and asking him to pay for necessary repairs. Suttles also noted that Tourism takes in tax revenue from the restaurant tax as well as hotel taxes.

'Even though I'd like to help them, I don't see that it's a city issue,' Suttles said.

Council also moved to accept a bid from Kouns Handyman Service for repair and replacement of the council's meeting room floor. Kouns bid $2,562.57 for tearing out and replacing 16 sheets of plywood and the installation of new 3/4 inch advantec plywood. The bid does not include replacement of the carpet or the installation of other new floor coverings.

In other action, council heard from new State Representative Kathy Hinkle, who told council she wanted to make herself available to them and that if they had any issues she could help with, she would like to hear them.

'We'll give you a wish list,' joked Steele.

Council also heard updates on the Rupert Lane project as well as the sidewalk project, which will now be delayed until spring, when they can complete a required walkability study. Nash also asked Emergency Services about the homeless individuals referenced in that department's report. Joanne Dunfee explained that they often help homeless in the area by putting them up at the hotel when temperatures dip dramatically, but Nash said she was curious because, as she noted, 'I'm not seeing them.' Emergency Management Director Roger Dunfee explained that they have one person they help regularly, and in addition, 'have six to nine a year,' seeking assistance with temporary lodging or help moving on to another area.

Code enforcement noted in their report that they were accepting bids for the removal of several recently burned out properties in the city.

In police business, council approved a request from McDavid to finance the purchase of new tasers since their grant process with Homeland Security had not been successful. McDavid said the purchase of eight new tasers, and other necessary equipment for the tasers, would cost around $10,000. The police would receive all of the tasers up front, he explained, and would then be able to pay for the rest of them over a five year period, with no financing costs. Council approved the request unanimously.

Council also approved a request from the Chamber of Commerce to close Main Street, from Landsdowne to Pomeroy, for the Hometown Holidays Christmas Parade. In addition, they approved a request from the Fire Department to purchase a replacement vehicle from insurance funds on a truck that was wrecked, and to use the additional leftover funds for the purchase of additional radios.

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