November 10, 2005
Superintendents Pose Question, ‘To Drive or Not To Drive?’
To drive, or not to drive – that was the question being faced by the Memphis City Council as it reconsidered the municipal policy for superintendents’ vehicles at the November 3rd meeting.
Alderman William Reckenberg asked the council to address a discrepancy in the existing policy that allowed two superintendents to use city vehicles to travel between home and work, while two other superintendents were not allowed similar privileges.
“Right now we have two superintendents that drive city vehicles home, and two that don’t,” Reckenberg said. “We need to have a uniform policy – all or none.”
Alderman Ron Gardner asked why the issue was being raised now, since both superintendents that do not use city vehicles, have been in their current positions for more than five years.
Alderman Lucas Remley indicated the decision should be based on need, not cost, asking the council not to base the decision on the fact that light superintendent Dave Kittle lives approximately 13 miles outside city limits.
“If my power is out, and its an emergency, I don’t want Dave to say sorry he can’t make it to town because his personal vehicle is out of gas or won’t start,” Remley said. “He needs a city truck to insure he will be here when he is needed.”
Remley noted that the city could avoid the mileage issue in the future by requiring superintendents to live within city limits.
The council voted 4-0 to require that all four superintendents drive a city vehicle to and from work.
The Harry Baker Estate has donated a 120-acre property to be sold with the proceeds going to the City of Memphis for a perpetual fund for the Memphis Cemetery. City Attorney David Peppard informed the council that Baker’s will also designated another property, which Baker co-owned with another area resident, to be donated to the city.
Peppard informed the council that the property’s co-owner was willing to sell the ground, approximately 80 acres combined, during the scheduled auction for the city’s property. The council voted 4-0 to add this second property to the scheduled land auction, with the proceeds to be split between the co-owner and the city’s cemetery fund.
Larry Remley met with the council and questioned the recent decision to have skateboarding ramps removed from Johnson Park.
Alderman Teresa Skinner noted the city did not intend to prevent kids from participating in the popular sport but highlighted liability issues.
Alderman Remley questioned the validity of the liability concern, stating the city had blocked off the square and allowed skate boarding there.
“It’s sad that kids aren’t allowed to play because we are afraid someone will sue us,” Remley stated.
“We live in a day where people sue us all the time, yes that is sad,” Skinner said.
Peppard highlighted concerns about the use of the ramps and other equipment, built by a third party, but installed at a city park, where it could be used by anyone. He stated the liability arises from the fact that the city was aware of the equipment, which if constructed improperly, could result in injuries that ultimately would be the responsibility of the city.
The council concluded that the liability concern, basically is a coverage issue. If the equipment was owned and maintained by the city, then Peppard noted it likely would be covered under the city’s insurance, meaning no liability issue.
The council agreed that if the equipment could be donated to the city, or in some other manner placed under city ownership, it likely could allow one of the tennis courts at the park to be used for the ramps and other skateboading activities.
The council agreed to invite interested parties to the December meeting to discuss the proposal.
In other business, Joe Rossi was present to discuss the ditch adjacent to his property on Knott Street, There are still issues regarding ownership of the ditch. The council directed the street department to remove debris from the ditch and to maintain the area if it is determined to be owned by the city.
Three building permits were reviewed and approved at the November meeting.
The council granted building permits to:
Kim Nicoli, for a new deck to be built at 239 Watkins Street;
Troy Barrett, for a garage at 602 Cleveland Street;
And Brian Holton for a new building at his business site on East Jackson Street.
Three bids were received for the sale of surplus city property, a metal roof salvaged from the city park. The council accepted the high bid of $101 from Dixie Drummond. Bids were also received of $56.77 from Elsie Brassfield and $80 from Leon Orton.