M’boro Council approves payment

Published 2:41 pm Thursday, May 14, 2009

MURFREESBORO – It took two votes, but the Murfreesboro Town Council on Wednesday agreed to pay a Raleigh survey firm $12,192.50 for work done three years ago.

The bill did not reach the town until February of this year.

Initially, there were questions as to whether or not the work had ever actually even been authorized, but in a special council session immediately before the town’s second budget workshop Wednesday afternoon, Gene Byrd, public works director for the town, admitted that he asked that the work be done.

“But I had no idea it would be that expensive,” he said. “I apologize.”

The special meeting was called so the council could hear from Robert Graham of the George Finch Boney and Associates firm of Raleigh after the GFBA bill was questioned in an earlier council meeting and after a News Herald editorial suggested that it should not be paid unless GFBA could prove the work had been authorized.

Graham told the council that “in order to sell (cemetery) plots, you have to have a recordable survey that meets the state’s standards.”

Responding to a question from council member Molly Eubank, he said the area in question in the Cremains Cemetery includes “20 squares with 16 five-by-five plots in each one.”

He said that, despite the work done by his firm, the survey remains incomplete. A survey of adjoining property still is needed to establish one boundary, he said.

Council member Bill Theodorakis finally said, “We’ve got a 200-foot square up there and we’ve got a $12,000 bill on it. And that’s a problem. Everybody’s dancing around it, but that’s a problem.

“If you’d come back and said, ‘Look, we’ve got a problem,’ we could have made a decision,” Theodorakis said.

Graham said his firm had done similar work on two other Murfreesboro cemeteries.

“The difference,” Theodorakis said, “is that on those, we said that’s what we want done.”

Council member Sarah Wallace told Graham, “This just seems like an awful lot of money to me for like an acre of land.”

Graham said the law maintains the same standards for a survey of a subdivision or a cemetery.

Finally, Council member Lloyd Hill told Graham, “It looks like you were given authority by a representative of the town. I think it’s the shock effect of getting the bill three years later… I make a motion we pay the bill.”

Eubank seconded the motion, but it failed.

Mayor Lynn Johnson then asked Town Administrator Cathy Davison for her recommendation.

Davison recommended that the bill be paid.

“It was done on behalf of the town and we should pay it,” she said, also noting, however, that the town now has a formal purchasing and bidding policy in place, thusly such a situation should not occur in the future.

Council member Gloria Odum then moved again that the bill be paid and Hill seconded the motion.

The motion passed with Theodorakis and Wallace voting “No.”