Window treatments will be installed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 9, 2008

MURFREESBORO – It looks like those controversial window treatments will have a place in the Murfreesboro Town Council meeting room after all.

On Tuesday, council members voted to allow the installation of the window treatments, which were purchased by the former Murfreesboro Beautification Committee (MBC) without the approval of council.

At their last regular meeting in December, the council voted to direct Town Administrator Cathy Davison to contact the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald explaining the issues with the MBC, which was dissolved by council until further notice in November.

As reported by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, the issue stems from a Jan. 24, 2006 decision made by the town council in regards to indefinitely tabling a MBC request to spend $13,140 to purchase window treatments (curtains/drapes) and new chairs for the council’s chambers at the town’s municipal building.

Despite that decision, invoices totaling $4938.70 were approved in May and June of last year for the purchase of fabric and five window treatments. Furthermore, Mayor Lynn Johnson signed purchase orders for fabric and window treatments, which town policy prohibits as the mayor nor council members can act as purchasing agents.

MBC Certificates of Deposits were cashed in to help reciprocate the cost of the window treatments. However, this effort came up $649.53 short; an amount that was made up with “private funds” from the former MBC.

At Tuesday’s meeting, former MBC member Elizabeth Phillips informed the council the Friends of Beautification (FOB), a fundraising group for the disbanded committee, had raised the funds and paid back the the town in full.

Phillips asked permission from council to install the window treatments along with blinds that were donated by Southern Interiors in Suffolk, Va. On a motion made by Councilman Lloyd Hill, which was seconded by Councilwoman Sarah Wallace, the motion passed without objection.

Phillips inquired as to where the money that was raised would go to within the town’s coffers.

Davison said the money will be placed back into two line item funds, including the MBC fund and the municipality building maintenance fund.

Phillips also asked council members if FOB could re-work the town-owned planters on Main Street.

By consensus the council gave permission.

Philips also requested funding from the town for the purchase of soil and pansies for the planters to do that work. She estimated the cost would be approximately $100. Council members agreed and passed the motion for the allocation of $100 to FOB.

As expected, Davison also presented a draft of a new purchasing policy for the town.

Among the major points in the document are:

* Purchases under $200 do not need a purchase order. It is encouraged that the (town) departments utilize their purchasing cards to make these purchases.

* Purchases $200 to $5,000 will need a Purchase Requisition Form fill out by the department head and signed by the department head. Only when a completed Purchase Requisition Form is given to the town clerk will a purchase order be issued. The town clerk is the only individual that will have access to the purchase orders.

* Purchases greater than $5,000 but are within the current town operating budget for the department will need a Purchase Requisition Form filled out and signed by the department head as well as signed by the town administrator. Only when a completed Purchase Requisition Form is given to the town clerk will a purchase order be issued.

* Purchases beyond budgeted appropriation will need authorization by the town council before the purchase can be made.

* The policy lists items where a purchase order is not needed. Those items include: advertising, dues, electricity, equipment rent (less than 30 days), insurance(s), laboratory analysis for water and sewer departments, mechanical fuels, lubricants and related automotive supplies and equipment, miscellaneous contracts (computer support, landscaping, waste disposal) natural gas, on-going utility charges, postage, professional services that are part of an ongoing project, salaries and payments for withholdings or contributions from salaries, telephone and uniform rentals.

* The policy identifies the competitive bidding process in order to be in compliance with North Carolina General Statue &167; 143-129 for all purchases equal to or in excess of $2,500.

* The policy also spells out cooperative purchasing-the departments will now be purchasing items together; particularly office supplies.

* The policy also utilizes purchasing cards with a cardholder’s agreement that all cardholders must sign before receiving their card. One item that will make the employees more accountable is that if they do not turn in their receipts or utilize that card for personal items, they must reimburse the town for such amount and could be subject to dismissal.

After reading over the policy, Mayor Lynn Johnson recommended the council have the town’s auditor look over the document.

Johnson questioned Davison as to how she had researched information for the policy.

Davison said she had researched with the University of North Carolina’s School of Government as well as the town of Mt. Pleasant, which has less than 1,600 citizens and had a similar policy.

The mayor then reiterated she would feel more comfortable with the auditor looking over the policy.

“Is that necessary?” asked Councilwoman Gloria Odum. “She’s (Davison) done all the research.”

Councilman Bill Theodorakis made a motion to adopt the policy. Councilman Lloyd Hill offered a second. The motion passed without objection.