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Council discusses equipment upgrade for street department

The Russellville City Council convened on Monday night to discuss and vote on a number of issues. The council approved all 17 items on the agenda.

The first major item on the agenda was an ordinance to establish the sales tax holiday in the city.

On March 16, 2017, the Alabama State Legislature passed Act 2017-120, which simply moved the date of the state sales tax holiday back from the first week of August to the third week of July.

“This sales tax holiday is for school supplies,” said Russellville mayor David Grissom. “This ordinance will bring us in line and in conjunction with the state.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the sales tax holiday, conforming Russellville to “all terms, conditions, definitions, time periods, and rules as provided by Act 2017-120.” The sales tax holiday for school supplies will begin on Friday, July 21 and end at midnight on Sunday, July 23.

The next noteworthy item, and the most discussed topic, was equipment for the Russellville Street Department. Recently appointed Russellville Street Department superintendent Shannon Wilson took the podium to explain what equipment was needed and why. According to Wilson, his department is in “dire need” of an upgrade.

“We have one backhoe that is completely out of business and one that is hobbling, to put it nicely,” Wilson told the council during the work session. “The equipment we use is essential to getting our job done and right now that equipment needs an upgrade.”

District 1 councilman David Palmer concurred with Wilson, saying the maintenance costs of keeping the old equipment in service were costing the taxpayers too much.

“It’s not that the street department doesn’t have any equipment, it’s that the equipment they have is old and worn out or doesn’t work anymore,” he said. “The cost to fix and maintain the equipment as often as they do is costing the taxpayers a fortune.”

Palmer says purchasing new equipment, thanks to the better technology it brings, will help the street department do its job more effectively and save the city from purchasing larger and expensive pieces of equipment.

“The fleet of equipment the department has now was what everyone was using at the time it was purchased, but since then there’s been a lot of innovation and the equipment we have now isn’t efficient anymore,” he said. “Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars buying a bunch of different equipment, we can buy a skidsteer and the attachments we need to do the same job for a fraction of the price.”

The specifics regarding price have not been established, but Palmer says the timeline for getting the street department its new equipment is “hopefully” in the next six to eight months.

“I’d like to think we can get this done between now and the new budget,” he said. “We can get a lot of things through the state surplus system and we will look into it more and try to do that.”

Grissom, after adjournment, said he and the council would do its best to deliver the street department the upgraded equipment it desires but will do so responsibly.

“We’ve known for a long time that the street department needed new equipment, but we can’t afford to pay for all of it new at one time,” he said. “We’re trying to do the best we can with taxpayer dollars.”

Other actions approved by the Russellville City Council:

- Passed resolution vacating portion of Holland Drive
- Approved bid to purchase vehicle extrication equipment for the Russellville Fire Department for $21,175.
- Approved Russellville Parks and Recreation Department 12u softball contract for Jeff Fredrick.
- Approved re-appointment of Jerry McDuffa to the Russellville Electric Board (councilmen Arthur Elliott and Gary Cummings abstained).
- Approved request by city employee Jody Beard to change existing insurance plan.
- Approved request from ADECA to waive rental fee for the A.W. Todd Centre on Thursday, April 27, 2017, for a law enforcement training exercise.
- Approved request from the Gideons to waive the rental fee for the A.W. Todd Centre on May 11, 2017.
- Approved request from the Russellville City Schools Foundation Board of Directors to waive the rental fee for the A.W. Todd Centre on April 17, 2017.

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