VERNON — The Vernon City Council took about 30 seconds Monday to approve adding a mile to the city’s Enterprise Zone.
The Enterprise Zone extension was discussed in length at last week’s council workshop, where Washington County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ted Everett proposed expanding the city’s Enterprise Zone down Moss Hill Road.
An Enterprise Zone is a state-created area for industrial or commercial development that offers incentives to businesses in order to create jobs. Those incentives include jobs creation tax credits, electrical energy tax credits, sales tax refunds for jobs creation and building materials, property tax credits for jobs creation and sales tax refunds for business equipment and machinery.
Last year the state Legislature passed a new law allowing counties to expand their Enterprise Zones, and Washington County will be allowed to expand its areas by three miles, which Everett plans to divide evenly between Ebro and Vernon.
Everett visited the Vernon council’s workshop on Sept. 16 to discuss possible expansion plans for Vernon’s Enterprise Zone.
Currently the city has its Enterprise Zone located mainly along Highway 79. Everett suggested the city council consider extending the zone an additional 1 ¾ mile, the amount by which he hopes to expand the zone, along Mossy Hill Road toward the high school.
The council was told that the school district owns property behind the school’s campus, which could potentially be purchased by the city and used as an industrial site.
The next step will be for the city to determine where exactly the new Enterprise Zone will be, and Everett has an engineering firm lined up to help with that work at no cost to the cities.
The council also approved four requests for adjustments to customer water bill accounts due to leakage. Deputy Clerk Karen Dodd said that the city may waive sewage fees in the case of leaks, with the council’s approval.
The first account the council discussed was for an amount of water bill for $896, the result of a tree root breaking a pipe. The adjustment the customer would receive would be $399. “They’ve already paid the bill, but they were just hoping you could help them with this.”
“If we make this adjustment, then we’re setting a precedent,” said Councilman Joey Brock.
The request for adjustment for $399 at first went without a motion, which would have meant the refund would not have been made. However, Council President Tina Sloan passed the gavel so she could make a motion to allow the adjustment, and the motion was approved.
“We’ve always allowed adjustments for broken pipes,” Councilwoman Gwen March said.
The council approved the other three adjustments, which were for $100.45, $302 and $1.42.
Councilman Shawn Sanders reported that the repair estimates for the city’s two fire trucks had been submitted. “The estimate for the fire engine repairs is $45,000 and repairs to the tanker will cost $65,000.”
The two fire trucks were damaged when they collided with each other en route to a fire call in August.
“The insurance adjuster figured $16,000 for the tanker and only $7,000 for the engine,” Sanders said. “We’ve got to get with the insurance company and see what to do. We’ve got full coverage insurance, so they either have to fix it or replace it. It’s just a matter of working out the details.”
In other business, the council approved paying a negotiated amount to former city attorney Kerry Adkison.
“I met with Mr. Adkison and we had a very good meeting,” said City Attorney Michelle Tagert. “I had the chance to review all the city’s files and reviewed the work products case-by-case.”
The original amount of the bill was about $27,000. Tagert said she and Adkison had discussed the billing, and he agreed to a lower amount of $10,230, which the council agreed to pay.