Hawesville City Council met on Tuesday, February 14th at 6:30 p.m. Hawesville Mayor Robert McCormick called the meeting to order and they began with the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer, followed by roll call. Hawesville City Clerk Lora Basham and Attorney Jamie Stephens joined council members Tracy Johnson, Wayne Herndon, Kevin Linn, Junie Morris, Danny Doyle and Justin Basham.
Working directly with the City of Lewisport – New Software
Mayor McCormick said that Lewisport Mayor Chad Gregory and Lewisport City Clerk Carrie Dixon have been working with Hawesville City Clerk Lora Basham and showing her the accounting software they use in Lewisport. Mayor McCormick and Councilman Wayne Herndon went and looked at the accounting software that Lewisport uses and saw a demonstration. McCormick said he feels like Hawesville needs to “move forward and have a meeting with the company that’s supplying Lewisport and the fiscal court.”
Herndon said, “It’s what they and most of the cities around us right now are using. This one is a direct – it goes to their audit and they can just take it. Where we are now, they have to read it and do all of these other things before they can audit it.”
It was stated that the transition would save time as well as save money on auditor fees . They have been and are currently using Quick Books online and one other system. “Quick Books Online is not a government friendly program,” McCormick said. The system used by the City of Lewisport is much more user friendly.
He told the council that he was really impressed with Lewisport’s system. “If we needed help we can call,” McCormick said. “Those spread sheets actually give you a percent of what you use – all they have to do is print that out. The Kentucky League of Cities recommends that you team up with the mayor that has been in office. I have one of the best mayors in Lewisport that I can call and talk to and that will help me out. Chad has been a great help and he’ll be helping us moving forward.”
Councilman Herndon said, “They have been using this for quite a few years. They have the experience. They have 4 people who are using this program right now to track all of the city’s business.”
Mayor McCormick added, “Obviously they are doing some things right. If we could follow their lead on some things, I think it’s going to help. The next step is to set up a meeting with the company and let them sit with Lora and me and see how long it would take to switch it over if we do decide to.”
If the decision is made to switch over, Lewisport City Clerk Carrie Dixon has agreed to show Hawesville City Clerk Lora Basham everything she needs to know in order to get Hawesville on the same system.
“We’re going to bring in the people to present it to us and they will be heavily involved in that,” McCormick said. “They can go down to Lewisport at any time and take a look at what they’re doing. And if we do go to this program and we run into road blocks, Lora can make a call down to Lewisport and say, ‘Listen, I’m stuck right here.’ So it just makes sense that we all emulate each other with the same program if it’s user friendly for them. We can’t take a long time for the conversion.”
City of Hawesville Water Tie-In with Lewisport
“We’re blocked in so we can’t do anything else with this water system without a whole new plant,” McCormick said. “There’s no financing out there that we can come up with. The tie-in would be the only thing we’d need to run our system off of their water as soon as they get their plant up.
It’s going to take a joint venture with them, us and the court system, because all of us are going to benefit from it. So we’re all going to have to agree with what the rates are going to be – to put a meter on their lines and pump it into the city but what that could help us do also is help us concentrate on our infrastructure. Our water is the best water you’ll ever drink, until it runs through these lines and then it gets bad.”
The heavy metals in the water pipes is contaminating the water and it was stated that it cannot be softened because if they soften it, it will descale the pipes and then, McCormick said, “We would be getting back into the brown water we had 15-16 years ago. Our water department, as far as I’m concerned, is a fine oiled machine. Those guys – you know what people don’t realize, they don’t have to have a shovel in hand all the time to work. They are down there – when you turn your faucet on and get water, that’s because of them. If you get a chance to say anything to them – stop and see them. They enjoy hearing things that are positive because they get a lot of negatives.”
It was stated that the last audit for the City of Hawesville was done in 2017/2018. Mayor McCormick said, “We are working diligently to get it done. We’re moving forward. We’ve now gotten funds released to us and some good things happening that we’ll all be talking about soon.
Both audit companies – one is preparing our audit, and it’s Buckles, Travis & Hart, they are putting our audit together for Alexander & Company. We’ve now provided them with everything they need and we’ve emulated that for 2019/2020, etc. When they requested something for 2019, we automatically sent them the same information for 2021/2022 because they were going to need it. So we just thought we’d go ahead.
What they have come back to us and told us is that Buckles, Travis & Hart will have our audit ready to be presented to Alexander & Company to actually audit. He’ll have it ready by the first of June and Jennifer Estes, with Alexander & Company, she’s from here in the County, she says she should have the audit completed by August. So we’re moving forward and things are really looking good there. It’s taken a lot of hard work. The ladies in the office have done a good job of gathering information that was needed. We’re moving forward with this audit. We have some good things going on.”
“I met with them this morning up at fiscal court and they are so helpful with everything,” McCormick said. “We will be applying for several grants. A lot of the FEMA grants received, we have to come up with 13.5 percent, I believe, but that can be anytime later up to a certain percentage of that 13.5.”
The question was asked by a council member if grants had come through in the last years that weren’t applied for. McCormick said he was only aware of a couple that came through last year, one for the fire department. “We did talk to Dave, Jason Bevill and I. He has a large grant and he’s wanting to work with us on trying to try to help the fire department and city hall,” McCormick said. “I told him to get all of the numbers together and we’ll be taking a look at that. Moving forward, we will be applying for any and all grants that aren’t going to cost us a tremendous amount of money in matched dollars and I think there are a lot of them out there.”
Another question was asked, that if a grant comes up, can they initiate it without having the audit completed. And also, it was asked if this was the hold-up with not getting grants to come through in the past? McCormick answered, “We have now been released to receive funds. They’re going to release funding to us. I don’t know for a fact if that was the hold up. We’re at a point now where we feel really good. The end of this month is going to be exciting for the City of Hawesville. We’ll all be discussing this very soon.”
Attorney Jamie Stephens stated, “I think there are regulations that state that the Kentucky Finance & Administration Cabinet must withhold from a non-compliant city, any funds held in any executive branch agency to which the city is entitled. I think that’s the answer to that.”
Stephens continued by outlining the details of a cooperative program that is available in which the council voted yes on. “To participate in their cooperative program, which is basically, for lack of a better term, an insurance policy, wherein it’s for Municipal Road A Funds and it provides emergency funding to participating cities in exchange for our contribution of 3 percent of each of the participating municipalities apportionment,” she said.
“What happens is, we pay that 3 percent into that pot. That particular program has no administrative charges for the program. The only fees that are removed from that pot are funds that are going directly to the cities for emergency funds that have been approved. If we have an emergency situation, we apply to them to receive our portion of the funding. Obviously, the earlier in the year you apply, the better chances you’re going to be approved. But, they approve 80 percent of the project and send you the funding up front and the remaining 20 percent is funded after you’ve completed the job.”
Police Officer Update
As you may have read in the Clarion in the reported minutes of last month’s council meeting, Hawesville Chief of Police Harold Parente was fired from his position by Mayor McCormick at the first of the month and Cody Axton, of Hawesville, was hired as the new Hawesville Chief of Police. He completed his POPS (physical fitness) test on January 23rd, and he’s been training for patrol. He will be attending the police academy in Richmond, Mayor McCormick said, as soon as they can get him into that program.
Councilman Danny Doyle provided the update on Cody Axton’s progress. “We’re getting our new officer trained and ready to go and right now he’s still in phase one,” he said. “Phase 2 will be Thursday and after that he should be good to go to start patrolling. I’ve had him out with some of our Sheriff’s Department and he has rode with Aaron Emmick and B.J. Burton. He has a total of 40 hours in right now. We’re excited about getting him going. We’re making sure he’s fully trained.
I’ve asked him and the mayor has asked him to go and meet folks. I’ve had a few calls and they said Cody has showed up and they appreciated it and they’re really thankful to know who’s going to be taking care of them.”
Facebook Information Page
Mayor McCormick presented the idea of a Facebook Information Page for the City of Hawesville. “Facebook information page only,” he said. “It will be – no comments can be made or anything. No likes. No dislikes. All it is – we will have an administrator that can go on that page (and post important updates that citizens need to know). We’ve got the one that we’re already utilizing that we call dispatch and they put it out in text. Not everybody has access to that. A lot of people have Facebook and social media. I don’t, but a lot of people do so if we would be able to administer that, it would get to a whole different group of people also.”
He added, “I think we need to promote our County with a Facebook Page and our City. Our local businesses – you know, take pictures of them and take pictures of our workers when they’re doing things out there in 20 degree weather and then we can put it on there. This is up for discussion. We don’t have to do it. I’m just asking if you all would like to do this.”
By Jennifer Wimmer