The Piedmont City Council, on Tuesday, voted to replace failing equipment at the city’s waste water treatment plant in order to avoid state fines.
Apel Machine & Supply Company of Cullman was awarded the contract to install replacement aerators at the Piedmont Lagoon in the amount of $80,300.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management first sent a warning letter in March of 2015 notifying city leaders that the failing aerators would need to be replaced to avoid penalty. City leaders then informed ADEM of their plans to complete the installation by February of 2016, but a shipping delay caused the city to miss its goal.
ADEM’s most recent warning came in December of 2017, giving the city a 30 day deadline to submit a detailed schedule for installation.
With the new aerators now in supply, city leaders say the installation will be complete by May 4th.
In other business, Jennifer Green, director of the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Jacksonville State University presented the findings of a recently completed wage study to the council, noting that most of the city’s salaries were in line with those of similar Alabama cities.
She added, however, that the biggest discovery was that most of Piedmont’s department supervisors were paid by the hour. Green said that by making those positions salary exempt, the city could save about $37,000 per year, eliminating overtime and comp time.
Also during the meeting, the council agreed to sponsor a state grant application, pending approval by the city attorney, for the completion of a nearby all-terrain vehicle course, located about 6 miles from Piedmont in Cherokee County.
LaBreeska Ponder, who plans to open the 4,400 acre ATV park, offered to pay the council 5-percent of the $500,000 grant, if awarded, in exchange for the sponsorship. Ponder said she needed the city’s sponsorship in order for a business to be eligible for the state grant. Money from the grant will be used to develop more than 100 miles of trails at the park.
Ponder said she plans to open the park in May.
The council also agreed to hold a work session on Tuesday, February 13th, at 6pm to further discuss an incentive program to bring new businesses to Piedmont. Council member Greg South, who also owns Solid Rock Café, initially presented a proposal outlining a tax incentive plan to entice new businesses to locate to the vacant buildings in the city’s historic downtown center.
Several council members, however, expressed reservations about limiting the incentives to the downtown area and requested the work session to potentially develop a city-wide incentive plan.
Bills for payment were approved in the amount of $619,082.83.
The next regular Piedmont City Council Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 20th, following the work session, which is set for 5:30pm.