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City Council OKs sale of skating rink

FRANKLIN

Franklin’s City Council voted 5-0 with one absent and one abstention on Monday to approve the sale of the former Isle of Wight-Franklin Skating Rink building, located in Isle of Wight County off of Walters Highway (U.S. Route 258), to Kevin Roughton. Roughton plans to relocate his HVAC business, Quality Aire, to the site.

According to City Attorney H. Taylor Williams IV, Roughton has agreed to a purchase price of $85,000 for the building and four acres of land. The building is located on a two-acre parcel and the sale agreement includes two additional acres from the city’s Airport Industrial Park.

The building is in need of renovation and, per the terms of the sale agreement, the responsibility of bringing the building up to Isle of Wight County’s building codes falls to Roughton.

The abstention on the vote came from Councilman Bobby Cutchins, who, prior to the discussion of the contract, declared he had a potential conflict of interest concerning the sale of the building and excused himself from the council chamber. He explained that he had recently inquired as to whether Roughton planned to sell or lease his business’s existing facility on Bower’s Road once he had relocated, and then told Roughton that he might be interested in securing use of the Bower’s Road facility.

In other business, City Manager R. Randy Martin announced to the members of council that he and Franklin Power and Light Director Mark Bly had concluded negotiations with a contractor, Bellwether Management Solutions of Charlotte, North Carolina, to perform an independent audit of the city’s electric meters and utility billing system. The scope of Bellweather’s audit will include:

  • Selecting 823 meter locations across Franklin’s service area to be audited, which will equally represent the number of meters and meter types for each meter read route;
  • Collecting a physical meter read at each of Franklin’s customer service locations, comparing those reads to those of Franklin’s meter reading technicians and documenting any differences in meter reads for the 823 locations;
  • Confirming each meter is the proper form, is operating properly and has the correct serial number;
  • Visually checking for multipliers and for potential safety hazards at each meter site while collecting GPS data coordinates;
  • And examining if the reported electricity usage at each site according to the city’s billing record matches the amount indicated on each meter.

According to Martin, the 823 meter locations amount to approximately 15 percent of FP&L’s customer base. The cost for Bellweather to complete the audit has been estimated at $4 per meter site, totaling less than $4,000 for the entire project.

Following Martin’s announcement, Councilman Greg McLemore said he was concerned that he and the other members of council had not had the opportunity to review the other audit proposals the city had received before one was selected. Speaking to The Tidewater News after the meeting, Martin explained that city policy allows him as city manager to approve proposals under $30,000.

“Once we found out it was going to be as low as it was, we did not have to go through a formal bidding process,” Martin said. “We had trouble finding a lot of companies that would do this kind of work, lot will provide you equipment but very few perform these kinds of audit services. We talked to four firms and got proposals from two.”

He added that Bellweather was selected because they were the more experienced and the less costly of the two.

The council concluded by going into closed session.