By Jason Musselman
“It seems to be a failed experiment,” said Toulon Mayor Larry Hollis on Monday night about the city’s recent contract for mowing the cemetery. “I was happy with the way our guys were doing it before, and I probably won’t bid it out next year,” he added in a lengthy discussion about how often and to what quality of mowing is taking place.
Earlier this year the council accepted the bid of Integrity Lawn Services of Bradford for $7,800 to mow the Toulon Cemetery for the whole season. The bid was $7,400 lower than the next closest bid.
In February we reported that “Jeffrey Lape of Integrity was on hand to tell the council his bid would include trimming half the cemetery every time, which is more than the bid required. He also explained his bid is an introductory offer to showcase his work and let the council become familiar with his service.” In March the council accepted the bid.
Mayor Hollis said he has spoken to Mr. Lape, as have other city employees, and according to them he has stated that he’s “living up to [his] contract.” But council members disagree.
After seeing photos of how the cemetery looked Memorial Day weekend, it was clear that the portion of the contract which states trimming would be done every other mowing, is not happening.
“It’s not that he’s not trying,” said Mayor Hollis. “I think he’s just overwhelmed.”
The council did approve payment for the prior month, but will forward the contract on to the city attorney, Bruce Fehrenbacher, for evaluation and recommendations.
In other business, the council approved the upcoming fiscal year budget, which has a 3.75% increase in general operations and a 0.22% decrease in water, sewer and garbage operations, for a total adjusted decrease of 2.11%. Finance committee chair Rob Finney reported the city came in under budget for the previous year.
Motor Fuel Tax fund contracts were approved for the city’s summer road work. Quality Spot Repair was the low bidder for spray patch at $11,400.21, which is below the estimate of $13,000.
The city’s supply of new water meters is down to just a couple, meaning a dozen or more have been installed since fall. As a result, the council approved 12 more meters at a price of $279.67 each.
Accounts with broken water meters are only being charged the minimum amount, but with a working meter most bills are increasing $20. In a year’s time that increase is almost paying for the meter. In December we reported there are more than 140 broken meters throughout Toulon.
The council approved replacing a main valve in the water treatment plant for $4,840, which includes labor on the 300 pound electric actuated device. Also approved was up to $1,800 for a new commercial grade flag pole, since the city has lost two in recent years to the wind.
Finally, TIF funds were approved for half of the radio and lights for the new police truck in the amount of $2,333.86, and for a new street light at the corner of Willow St. and Franklin St. (entrance to the fitness center) for $2,500. The city took no action this month on a quote to repair the fence at the ball diamonds. Options ranged from $20,850 for one field to $41,748 for both fields with black coated fencing.
By Jason Musselman