City pulls plug on Southwest One work; cites missing contract

RACHEL KELLER COLLINS/The Tribune-Courier

Sgt. William Treadway of the Benton Police Dept. (standing in the turret) demonstrated many of the abilities of the new armored vehicle to Benton Mayor Rita Dotson (left) and the city council members (behind Treadway and to the right of the photo) during last week's meeting.

The contract between the City of Benton and Marshall County Fiscal Court for the Town Creek interceptor project, part of the water and sewer expansion project extending infrastructure to the Southwest One Industrial Park, is still not complete after a number of meetings and communication between the two entities in Jan. Benton City Attorney Zach Brien during last week's city council meeting said after both entities voted to approve the measure, the county was supposed to submit the contract to the Department of Local Government (DLG) for approval, which is required for all interlocal agreements--but learned recently the document has not been filed by the county.

Because the contract has not been reviewed by the DLG and therefore has not received approval from that agency, Benton Mayor Rita Dotson said she has ordered engineers to stop all work on the project--an order which will stand until a formal contract between the city and county is official.

Brien presented a revised contract and the council unanimously voted in favor. He said he would submit the contract and a letter explaining the necessity for the revised contract to the county for approval.

The new proposed agreement states the city agrees to repay the county the cost of the interceptor project in the maximum amount of $689,400 or the actual cost (whichever is less) in payments made to the county over 20 years, beginning at the completion of the project. The loan shall carry no interest, there shall be no prepayment penalty and the minimum monthly payment will be $2,872.50. The funds for repayment will be pulled from revenue received by Benton's water and sewer systems.

None of those terms vary from the original agreement struck by the two entities in late Jan.-early Feb. 2019. The original terms of the contract were reached after extensive negotiation between the city and the county--with Neal stating the project had to happen in order for the success of the infrastructure for the industrial park and Dotson stating the project was low on the priorities list of upcoming projects and seeking a standard loan would preclude them from being awarded loans for high-priority projects.

The MCFC, which met in regular session last week, did not discuss the matter in open court.

In other business:

• Benton Police Chief Jeromy Hicks said he and Sgt. William Treadway recently traveled to Massachusetts to pick up the Lenco BearCat armored vehicle, which will be utilized by the Marshall County Special Response Team (SRT), a multi-agency team similar to a SWAT (special weapons and tactics) team. Hicks said part of the requirements for being awarded the grant dollars with which the vehicle was purchased in full, is that it would be available for response for law enforcement agencies in surrounding areas as well. Brien said he would work with Hicks to draw up the proper paperwork and interlocal agreements necessary for meeting that requirement.

• Councilman Kevin Farley, who has for some time been meeting with representatives of the county and the county's animal shelter, said he was promised delivery of a proposed contract regarding animal control within days of last week's meeting. Marshall County Animal Care and Control has reportedly been refusing to pick up animals within city limits without such a contract.

• The council heard a second reading of the ordinance increasing the payroll tax from .5% to .6%, which takes effect Jan. 1. The council voted unanimously in favor of the measure, noting the city began collecting the tax in 1974 and never increased it until last week's meeting. During the May meeting, City Clerk/Treasurer Bethany Cooper said the measure would generate an additional $98,000. She said for someone with a $35,000 per year salary, that increase would amount to an additional $35 for the year (just under $3 per month).

• The council heard the first reading of an ordinance establishing responsible bidder requirements for city construction projects. The ordinance, if passed following a second reading during next month's meeting, will require bidders for construction projects within city limits to comply with and show proof of compliance with all Kentucky and federal laws with regards to doing business and being an employer. It will also require bidders to provide certificates of insurance, participle in registered and approved apprenticeship programs and training programs for each of the trades of work under each project, and provide certified payrolls. Brien said the measure is intended to ensure people doing construction projects within the city have adequate training to produce quality work.

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