Joe Gray

Grove Sun

After much debate, and with a great deal of reluctance, the Grove Municipal Services Authority agreed to proceed with a $877,822 bid to construct a new public works facility.

While the four members present ultimately approved the proposal unanimously, they all stressed that future expenditures would need to be in line with a long-term strategic plan, which City Manager Bruce Johnson said would be presented at the next monthly meeting.

I have a hard time spending almost a million dollars with no long-term plan for GMSA, board member Ron Tipton said. There is no plan in place.

Johnson, Public Works Director Jack Bower, and financial advisor Rick Smith cited rising material and construction prices, a limited time window for the proposed financing package, and the critical nature of being able to maintain equipment and operations in an effort to sway the board to go ahead with the project.

If we dont have a facility to maintain equipment, were going to end up having down lines and lost service, Bower said.

The citys current facilities are not large enough to get some pieces of equipment inside for maintenance. Bower and other department heads on hand all stated that a new facility was the thing they needed most.

I kind of feel like Im being railroaded into doing something Im not ready for, Tipton reiterated. Im just not ready for this.

Board member Berwin Koch also voiced the need for a final plan, but agreed with the project.

Theres no doubt that the city needs this, and theres a cost to delaying it, Koch said. I think its appropriate to approve this and use it as a starting point for our long-term plan.

I want this plan by the next meeting also, board member Mike Davenport stressed. I dont want it the day before the meeting, or twenty minutes before the meeting. I want us to have some time to get into it.

If you can tell me this is the number one need right now, Ill vote for it, Tipton said. When Bower and staff all said yes, the board passed the proposal by a 4-0 vote.

The Authority also wrote off $53,000 of bad debt, covering a period from January of 2008 to December of 2009. Staff stated that they wanted to develop a policy to send past due bills to collections much quicker, and will be bringing a proposed policy before the board next month.