Transition procedes with 'Worm'

Friday, May 15, 2009

The last regular meeting of Lewisburg's City Council led by Mayor Bob Phillips started with his homey announcements, including a cautionary observation, and the last agenda item, citizen input, allowed a man nicknamed Worm to suggest a French drain might help resolve drainage problems.

After a dozen years as mayor, Phillips was still facing the basic facts of small town life like water runs down hill and municipalities are asked to do something about it when drainage issues aren't resolved at the neighborhood level. Jerry "Worm" Roberts of Dodson Drive reported a Public Works official said the problem started up stream at The Embers trailer park.

"We'll see what we can do," Phillips said, closing that discussion and turning to his planned conclusion for such a meeting -- a Presbyterian prayer on leadership.

Ironically, Phillips' successor, Barbara Woods, wasn't present. The woman -- who received 80 percent of the vote over the only other candidate for the office Phillips is leaving voluntarily -- twisted her ankle Tuesday afternoon and so she was following doctor's orders that night.

Phillips' cautionary observation during his routine announcements -- expressed early in third person -- was that "The mayor is always nervous when there's an even number" of council members. Councilwoman Quinn Brandon was absent, so if there were a 2-2 tie, the mayor would have to break it.

It turned out to be a charmed meeting as all matters up for a vote were approved by the four seated-councilmen.

Kindly kidding had always been part of the mayor's announcements during an official part of the agenda, but delivered as if they were from the pastor informing his flock on Sunday morning.

"I've already been told that the new mayor won't have as many announcements," said Phillips, apparently unaware of speculation on whether his successor, a former principal, might have something like morning announcements over a school P-A system.

If Woods refrains from making so many announcements, the City Hall crew might breathe easier as Phillips also used his last announcements to kindly kid Terry Wallace, the city's industrial development director. Wallace took his mother to a hospital last Sunday. She was dehydrated and needed of an infusion of liquids. The point was that Wallace left his mother there for treatment on Mothers Day when he went to play tennis. It was with her permission, Wallace said, adding that he went back and picked her up and took her home.

When the Council got down to real business, it included adoption of an ordinance to set the property tax rate at $1.36 per $100 of assessed value. Fiscal year 2009-10 will be the 21st year in a row that Lewisburg hasn't charged more in property taxes, unless there's been an improvement.

The rate has decreased because of reappraisal. The city's adoption of the lower state-certified rate is to equalize the tax burden so increased property values won't provide a windfall of revenue.

The ordinance unanimously supported on Tuesday also approves a revenue- and spending-plan. Phillips noted that the budget part of the ordinance would be amended to abide by plans made during a budget workshop set for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 19.

Also Tuesday, the Council voted for:

* An appropriation of not more than $1,900 for a survey and topographical mapping of 20 acres. It's for a more perfect flattening of land once used as a grass strip for airplanes. More ball fields are to be developed there.

* The first of three required votes on a request for rezoning of land classified for residential use to a commercial zone at 744 Crestland so a floor covering business might be developed there.

Johnny Perryman told the Council he's already "taken down" a house on the property near Reliance Street, Old Belfast Road and the Farmers Co-op.

* Another first of three votes to rezone industrial property to a residential classification so a woman may continue to live there without worrying she might not be able to rebuild in the event of a fire.

* A resolution to ask the state to return $1,500 of unclaimed utility deposits that were unclaimed after a state announcement. Such money is held by the state until it's sought by local jurisdictions. The resolution is to let the city hold the money instead of the state.