The Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Alderman voted Monday to expand the town’s drug-screening policy to include all newly hired employees during their probationary period.
In recommending the amendment, Town Administrator Bob Browning told the board the existing policy applied only to employees of the police, fire and water treatment departments whose jobs are considered “safety sensitive” and to employees who are required to obtain commercial driver’s licenses.
While employment with the street and water distribution departments could be considered safety-sensitive because the work involves the operation of backhoes and other dangerous equipment, Browning said newly hired employees in those departments who do not have CDL certification “are not supposed to be in the pool of employees” subject to random drug tests.
While Alderman Chuck Vest joined the other aldermen in a unanimous vote to amend the policy, he said he would like to the town to explore expanding the policy further and include all town employees.
“As a matter of fairness,” Vest said the drug screens should include employees who handle money as well as those who use heavy equipment. If desired, he said the policy could also be applied to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
In other business, the board voted to adopt the 2006 International Residential Code to meet the state Fire Marshal’s Office requirement that jurisdictions that manage their own building code enforcement adhere to IRC policies established no more than seven years prior the most recent IRC publication.
The 2003 IRC building codes previously enforced by the town fell outside the seven-year interval when the 2012 IRC was published and released last spring. The 2006 IRC, which is also enforced by Washington County and Johnson City, will meet the Fire Marshal’s requirement until the next IRC is published in 2015.
The board also voted to enter a revised temporary lease of the town’s newly acquired International Storytelling Center with the nonprofit International Storytelling Center organization.
The town purchased the building from ISC last week with financing from the US Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development.
The $3.3 million RD loan, which includes $1 million for the storytelling building and $2.3 million for construction of a new senior center, was obtained at a lower interest rate than was expected last year when the board voted to buy the building out of bankruptcy proceedings.
The purchase agreement included a plan for the town to pay for the building by leasing it to the ISC, and the lower interest prompted the town to reduce the ISC’s monthly rent from $3,900 to $3,800. The lease will remain in effect until May 31, at which time the board plans to enter a long-term lease with the ISC organization.
Financing for the senior center will be repaid through a 10-cent property tax increase imposed for the project in 2011.
The RD loan will be repaid at 3.125 percent interest over a 38-year term. The loan agreement includes a provision that allows the town to pay the debt off early if desired.