Bartlett board expands city’s hiring practices, approves projects

At the Aug. 8 board meeting, the Bartlett mayor and aldermen unanimously approved changing the city’s hiring practices to allow employment of relatives. The revised policy will allow Bartlett to hire qualified relatives of existing city employees as long as there is no direct supervision between them.

Bartlett-city-seal-300pxThe previous policy was more restrictive: For example, if one family member worked in the fire department, a relative couldn’t be hired in the police department. The policy has not only prevented some hires, but also has prompted some existing employees to leave.

Mayor Keith McDonald said, “We’ve had some really good people who chose to leave employment and retire so their children could come on.”

Observing how the Bartlett City Schools district successfully handles the hiring of related personnel encouraged him to investigate a policy change. “It’s working there, and I don’t know why it shouldn’t work here.”

He asked staff members to compare Bartlett’s practices to those of other municipalities while he considered this change.

McDonald commented, “We may have lost out — and I don’t want to continue to do that in the future — on good people who could have worked for us in a different part of the city from their other family member.”

The board also approved almost doubling the tuition reimbursement for the city’s Emergency Medical Services personnel to complete paramedic training. This increases the amount from $4,500 to the current tuition of $8,000. McDonald said it’s higher than other tuition reimbursements but explained that the city faces tough competition with the county and Germantown to hire paramedics.

Employees who receive this tuition must work for the city for four years or repay the debt.

The city currently employs 25 paramedics, and the goal is to reach 30. McDonald also said this will allow the city to run its new ambulance out of Station 2 for 100 percent of the time.

The board also approved amending the FY2018 Grants Fund Budget to appropriate funds for work on the Fletcher Creek Bank Stabilization Project. The estimated total project cost is $515,690 with 100 percent of the project funded by the Community Development Block Grant program.

Work is expected to cover 200-250 feet of the creek downstream from the road that runs beside Brim’s Snack Foods. The banks in that area are vertical and about 20 feet tall, threatening the company’s driveway and some other nearby areas. The city plans to reshape the area, stabilize it and put in a grade control structure at the low end so it won’t continue to degrade.

McDonald noted that this ditch is on city-owned property and is thus the city’s responsibility.

Other business

In other business, the board:

  • Approved the proposal for Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon to be the contract administrator for Phase 2 of the Fletcher Creek Greenway. The project is an 80/20 federal-local match. The city’s portion of the contract administration is $52,457.20.
  • Approved selection of SIC Project Management as the proposed grant administrator for Phase 2 of the Fletcher Creek drainage improvement project at a cost of $26,825, as well as selection of Carlson Consulting Engineers for the proposed engineering work at a cost of $74,000. This project is completely federally funded.
  • Approved budget amendments to appropriate funds for a state-required evaluation and transition plan to ensure that the city is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The 80/20 grant project will include a self-assessment of the city’s existing facilities (including all public buildings, facilities and rights-of-way) at an estimated total project cost of $150,000. The city’s 20 percent local match is estimated to be $30,000. The amendments affect the budgets for the FY2018 Grants Fund and the Capital Improvements Fund.
  • Approved the facility maintenance fee payment to the Tennessee Department for Environment and Conservation for FY2018. The city’s current number of water system connections is 21,391. At $1.30 per connection, that brings the total fee to $27,808.30.
  • Authorized the city to participate in the Tennessee Municipal League Risk Management Pool’s Safety Partners Matching Grant Program.
  • Accepted a letter and report from the Director of the Office of State and Local Finance on the city’s plan for issuing a $2.045 million General Obligation Refunding and Improvement Bond, Series 2017A.

CAROLYN BAHM is the editor of The Bartlett Express. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to carolyn.bahm@journalinc.com.