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Jellico Aldermen seek clarification at meeting

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By Natasha LaFayette

natasha@lafollettepress.com  

At the previous meeting of the Jellico Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Mayor Forster Baird moved Alderman Mike Johnson from the police department into the financial director position. Executing his new position over finances, Johnson addressed several purchases he deemed out of the ordinary at the meeting

“I was going through some receipts, and East Douglas Lane in Crouches Creek, is that a private drive,” questioned Johnson about the street being owned by the town.

Alderman Alvin Evans stated the street was a private drive. In the past, the town has asked the homeowners on the street if the city could upkeep and pave the road and they denied the service, according to Evans.

“The reason I am asking is we actually hauled three loads of gravel out there to a private drive,” said Johnson. “And of course our city workers is the ones that spread it out there.”

Jellico board attorney Terry Basista said the town is not supposed to gravel private drives. According to Baird, the city has done that for the last 30 years.

“If the city has maintained it, graveled it for 30 years then its dedicated for a public purpose,” said Basista.

Though Baird believed the town had always put gravel on that particular drive, Evans said the town had not been out there for maintenance in several years.

“Once the city maintains a roadway and expends gravel on it with city employees, especially if they just keep doing it, it doesn’t matter what they did years down the road, its become a city street,” said Basista.

The town tried to pave the road and the homeowners would not provide the city with the right of way, according to Evans.

“At this point, over the years if they have allowed it to be graveled by the city and they didn’t pay the city for it then what they want doesn’t really matter anymore,” said Basista.

Evans stated the decision was always passed down through the mayor, but did not specify if it was only done during Baird’s terms in office.

After a brief debate about the property owners’ rights, Evans said the property owners should be told the street is now a public driveway since it was kept up by the city.

Another clarification directed toward the city attorney was about purchases being made.

“What is the rules on say a city employee or someone purchasing anything on a state contract even if they pay the taxes on it, but are basically using our state contract to do purchases,” said Johnson.

Basita responded by simply stating, “You are not allowed to do that.”

After the meeting Johnson confirmed the clarification on expenses was part of his new initiative to search out where Jellico money is being spent.