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Board plays ‘Santa,’ doles out cash

Don’t call them Scrooges.

Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved several payouts at its only meeting in December, including another one-time payment to future retiring employees and one more chunk of change in pursuit of a fix for a subdivision’s leaking drainage system.

The Board members played Santa Thursday, Dec. 8, when they approved — with Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche dissenting — another one-time payment to 13 employees at Town Hall.

That’s the fourth change Farragut has made to its retirement program this year. So far, the Board has opted into Social Security, altered the Town’s 401(a) plan, and approved an ongoing supplemental plan and a one-time payment to employees based on their years of service.

The additional one-time payment approved Dec. 8 pays employees 2.4 percent of their yearly salary for each year of service beyond 15 years. Thirteen employees are eligible for this one-time payment, which will cost the Town $88,491 and will be taken from an unused insurance fund.

That payment was one of three options the Board considered Thursday night; the others awarding employees based on years of service plus age, with each of those plans eligible for only five employees apiece.

The many retirement changes are an effort to make up for the fact the Town hasn’t participated in Social Security since 1980.

“Regardless of which one is picked, we’re not going to make a huge difference,” Alderman Jeff Elliott said of the plans.

LaMarche, however, favored the plans that would help the older employees most.

Alderman Ron Honken sided with LaMarche: “If we’re going to do something that makes a difference, we should do something that makes a difference,” he said.

He advocated finding more money in the general budget or CIP — likely taking funds away from a future project or the Town’s rainy day fund — to fund one more one-time retirement payment that would focus on the five oldest employees with 15 years of service or more.

Town administrator David Smoak said he’d look into it.

The Board also approved a $28,300 change to a contract with Blalock & Sons Inc. for repairing a leaking stormwater drainage system at The Farm at Willow Creek.

The extra funding was to install a concrete “seep collar” at a pipe joint in the new drainage pipes just installed.

“The pipe joints, we had hoped, would be water tight, and unfortunately they are not completely,” Town engineer Darryl Smith said.

Recent rain pushed up water levels in a pond in the subdivision, causing water to enter the brand-new pipes where it shouldn’t. So the new seep collar was installed to block water from entering the joints of the pipe.

“As it is our intent to avoid any constant flow of water out of the pond, staff authorized the installation of another seep collar,” Smith wrote in a memo to the Board.

“It’s a little over 30 yards of concrete in that seep collar,” Smith said.

Mayor Ralph McGill asked Smith if he felt the subdivision’s drainage woes — which have caused road and sidewalk collapses, among other things — were finally over.

“Do I feel [the fix] is complete? Yes,” Smith said.


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