Mayo Town Clerk Linda Cone warned councilors Monday night to be weary of spending because the town is not making “any money.”
“We are barely making it. There’s no room for error,” said Cone.
Cone was referring to the budget after Operations Manager Sampson Edwards made a formal request for a zero-turn lawnmower to help him and his small work crew keep grass in the town to a manageable level.
“One of the problems that we’re having is keeping up with this mowing we’re doing,” said Edwards. “It’s been challenging with the special projects and keeping the right of ways, limbs and trash picked up of all the places in town.”
Edwards said it would be a great asset to them in keeping up with the needs of the town. Councilman Taylor McGrew asked if they had just recently purchased lawn mowers. Edwards confirmed, but added they were push mowers.
“We don’t have the man power or work force to do it,” said Edwards.
Cone said she had misgivings about purchasing the mower because they just don’t have the available funds. According to Edwards, depending on what size mower they might purchase, it could cost close to $10,000.
“I’m not saying we don’t need any kind of mower, but we cannot continue to operate the town on the budget that we’re operating on,” said Cone.
She said they are not generating any revenue that could justify the type of purchase Edwards suggested.
Cone said she hoped they would budget something like this in for perhaps next year’s budget and not buy on impulse. She reminded council they are on the verge of purchasing a new pickup truck and have had unexpected costs in the way of water tower repairs.
“I just think we need to figure it in the budget, but I don’t think we just need to agree to purchase,” said Cone.
After a long pause, Edwards said he wasn’t trying to “bust the budget”, but that a necessity is a necessity. He reminded them he and his crew are responsible for keeping the parks, the right of ways, the different compounds (two to three acres in size) mowed.
“It’s a lot of acreage and we can’t keep up with it right now,” said Edwards. “We’re going as hard as we can go.”
Edwards said if he had two squads, they would probably be able to stay on top of it. He added that all he’s ever asked for, has been a need, not a want. Edwards said if they see something they need, then get it.
McGrew said normally they would, but can’t because there’s no money available.
Edwards said they should appropriate the money, by charging more (water and sewage), but Cone thought that was a bad idea.
“Do you really think the people in the town of Mayo want us to increase their rates to cover a $10,000 zero-turn lawnmower,” asked Cone. “No, they’re going to say ‘put those boys behind those push-mowers and let them mow that grass.’”
Cone said she knew that’s not what Edwards wanted to hear, but the reality is they don’t have the money to do it. She said they were going to have to make some changes during their budget process to make it work.
Edwards said that it was something that had to be done immediately. For an example, he said currently they have only one tractor. The work they do is very time-consuming and if they don’t get a certain amount done in the time allotted, they’re in violation of their permit. Edwards said the man-hours are all accounted for.
“They keep adding stuff to it and we don’t have the staffing right now,” said Edwards. “We’re supposed to have so many per man-hour. We don’t even meet that.”
Edwards was asked how many were in a crew and he answered 10, but they couldn’t be split up for tasks at different locations. They are currently using inmates from Mayo Correctional Institution.
“When you have them here, they’re here,” said Edwards. “You’ve got one officer. He can’t split them up or give me one.”
Edwards was afraid that in order to satisfy one task, another would have to be ignored. He said that some of the services they provide aren’t being compensated, so they may have to stop doing them. He reminded them that in the bigger cities, workers bundle limbs, they’re weighed and charged accordingly.
“We pick them up. We have to have our DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) permit for it. I have to be certified and go to a class every year,” said Edwards. “That’s time consuming.”
McGrew said again there is no money and at budget time every year they keep raising rates. He said it looks like there’s no end and people are getting tired of it.
“Next year, it’s going to be something else,” said McGrew. “It might not be a zero-turn lawnmower, it might be three zero-turn lawnmowers.”
Edwards understood, but added how frustrating it was to have a need and not able be to get it.
Council decided that they would have to look at the matter during budget time for the following year.