Recap of December 6, 2011 Board Meeting
I knew that things were going to be different at this board meeting because on my way to the meeting, several Lumberton Police officers had pulled someone over on Main Street. There goes my theory that the LPD does not patrol Main Street. First item on the agenda was to hold a Public Hearing on the rezoning of Winston Enterprises property on Hwy. 13 to Commercial (C-1). Winston said he was going to use the property to sale equipment but he didn't want to specify what type of equipment he would be selling. Winston also stated that he will erect a building and want to help establish a tax base and create jobs in Lumberton. Next, were citizen’s comments. Cora Rogers asked the board again why they disbanded the planning and zoning committee. Timothy Johnson stated that a planning commission wasn't necessary and that the citizens of Lumberton had asked them to disband the committee, but he didn't give the names of the citizens he represented when he and the others decided to disband the planning committee, but the first agenda item was clearly related to their decision to disband the LPZC because if the committee was still in place, Winston would have been required to submit documentation regarding his plans and the City of Lumberton would have had proof in case he deviated from his proposed plan. Amos Fagan addressed the board and after he finished, most people were trying to determine the purpose of his "message", but I guess time will tell. Katrina Wade addressed the board regarding New York Life Insurance. Eugene Underwood started addressing the board of aldermen regarding their hiring practices and Timothy Johnson and Bobby Gibson refused to let him continue and told him that he needed to write out his concerns and submit them to the board.
Mayor Holder wanted to implement a policy requiring background checks for anyone opening a business or seeking employment in the City of Lumberton. Timothy Johnson vehemently opposed this motion and when it came for a vote the motion died for a lack of a second. The board voted to renew the contract with BBI despite complaints about their service for the last few years. So, the computer glitches will continue at a cost of $6,930 for the Annual Software Maintenance Agreement, $2,650 for the Annual Hardware Maintenance Agreement, $95/hour for training and mileage cost whenever a BBI agent has to come to the City of Lumberton for training and/or repairs. Despite their claim last month to poll the employees to see if they were willing to pay for their own dental insurance, the board voted to renew and pay the dental insurance of city employees at a rate of $22.65/month for employee only and $70.92/month for employee and family. Chief Hobson has been authorized to attend the Mississippi Association of Chiefs Police Conference and the following officers have been removed from the police department's roster: Kelvin Jones and Jeremy Yates. The board voted to hire the following officers as full time certified part time officers at a pay rate of $10.50/hour: David Marshall Jr., Joel Burkhalter, and Regina Newton. Mayor Holder vetoed the hiring of the officers. There will be a public hearing on the water policy ordinance on December 29, 2011 @ 6:00 p.m. (The board members in Picayune are currently being sued by a group of citizens and business leaders because they felt the water increase was excessive; I wonder will Lumberton suffer the same fate?) and the board voted to give Roy Easley another pay raise, which will bring his pay rate to $12.00/hr. This was also vetoed by Mayor Holder who cited that Easley already receives several hours of over-time every week and she also stated that he already received a raise and this additional raise was not included in the budget. And who was responsible for allowing the City of Lumberton's workman's compensation insurace drop. Thankfully, no employees were hurt during this lapse, but this reminds me of the accusations that was made by several police officers who claimed that their insurance had lapsed. Unfortunatley, if the board would have voted to pay the worker's comp insurance, there would not have been enough money to make the first $10,000 payment but since the franchise money from Mississippi Power came in early, the board was able to pay their bill for workman's comp insurance.
The board went into executive session to discuss the upcoming contract with the Gold Coast Skydivers and personnel issues. It was reported that Officer Timothy Ryan Byrd was terminated, effective December 6, 2011, but afterwards the board voted to hire Timothy Ryan Byrd as police records administrator at a pay rate of $10.50/hr. the same rate of pay he was receiving as a certified officer. The board has created a job for an officer that lost his certification because of his actions as a police officer, but they had no qualms about terminated certified officers that are still in good standing with the certification board. I know they created a new job title, but he's essentially the police clerk. Just because a person is called the vehicle placement enforcement officer does not negate the fact that they're a meter maid and the same principle applies with Byrd; he's being re-hired as a police clerk and that's why his pay should be at the same rate as the last police clerk or at least at the same rate of pay that was being given to the last deputy clerk that was hired. Otherwise, they're going to have to go back and vote to give Susan Guidry a raise since she has more seniority than Byrd and he shouldn't get paid more that her and he's only been employed here for a few months. Also, I discovered that our city attorney feels that he's not getting paid enough; especially since the lawsuits are starting to come in regarding the termination of several city employees. The board arbitrarily set the mayor's salary at .99/month and he said nothing, but now that no one advised the board of the legal repercussions of their actions, the city now needs defending. Interesting. I guess the next special called board meeting will include a motion to give Carter a raise since he was complicit and said nothing when the board was violating state law, he now needs more compensation to represent them.