Taken for GRANT(ed): Kicking the Can Further Down the Road
This board loves to pass the buck; place blame on the previous administration. At several meetings, there were complaints made, claiming the city was in poor shape because of deals made by previous administrations. Now, this board is getting ready to ink a deal that is tantamount to kicking the can further down the road. I don't know what political promises Winston made to get this deal but you better believe that the citizens of Lumberton will be left holding the bag and paying the bill. Winston is using this grant and the $625,000 loan as a part of his Help Ben Win campaign. Since coming into office, Winston claimed the City of Lumberton was broke. Now we're in a position to pay the upfront cost of $625,000 to secure a $2.5 million dollar grant. How is that possible? What promises were made? How is the loan going to get paid?
Last time I checked, the City of Lumberton had a delinquent payment in excess of $150,000 on a MDEA loan. That loan is paid from the WSOM account (water department). As a matter of fact, that loan is $10,000/month. That's primarily the reason ehy water issues are never addressed because the excess generated from inflated bills is used to loan money to other accounts. Now, on top of $10,000/month, the citizens are going to be required to fund repayments on an additional $625,000 loan that would be paid from WSOM. eith all this money coming from WSOM, the department would not be able to sustain itself, as required by law, and inevitably there will be another water rate increase as well as the prospect of more over-inflated water bills. The question remains, what were the companies that are securing this loan promised? Please don't get me wrong, the City of Lumberton is in dire need to have their water and sewer lines repaired but don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining. The cost is going to be passed on to the citizens and the reason why Winston is pushing so hard to get this deal inked is because of politics. Everybody knows Ben is running for Lamar County Supervisor and he's hoping that voters in Lumberton have a short memory span. It is Winston's hope that the repair of the water and sewer lines will help voters forget the platform of lies and cuts that has marred his role as mayor. Winston ran for office, saying there were shovel ready businesses waiting for him to get elected to open their business in Lumberton. Unfortunately, the promise of jobs was a lie and that's why he need this grant. Winston said he would unify the board and get our audits on schedule but we all know that his only goal is to get three votes and we haven't had an audit since he took office. Winston claimed the city was broke since taking the oath of office and that led to severe cuts in the police department; which is hazardous to the few officers we have as well as a constant threat to public safety for the citizens of Lumberton. We all are aware of the increase in break ins and other crimes but Winston and his three supporters, didn't think public safety was a priority. Winston went out and pulled every political favor he could garner in hopes of securing this $625,000 loan but refused to do anything when it came to keeping officers on the roster.
Also on the agenda was a motion to hire an additional clerk to help Merlene Wall. Winston feels she need more help. So, in addition to the clerk that's already in the office, Winston want the board to hire another clerk. Amazingly, Winston does not see a problem with police officers working 36 hours in a row but he strongly feels that our city clerk need additional help. Keep in mind that this board claimed there's not enough money available to have a full time court clerk but they think it's enough funding to hire another clerk because Merlene is basically unequipped to do the job of city clerk. How much more money are we going to throw at this problem before we realize it's not the system, it's the clerk? If a person hasn't learned how to multitask in two years, chances are, they probably never will. I'm sure she has a person in mind; a partner in crime so to speak. Surely she don't want to bring Melissa back; especially since she allegedly recommended her termination due to insubordination? If a person was fired for personnel issues, chances are, that person is the same. Bringing them back would mean you're bringing the same issues back to the office. Before I'm accused of disliking Melissa, I must go on record and say I never had a problem with Melissa. My problem is the fact that Winston had no problem turning the police department into a skeleton crew and the fact that the court clerk is still working 20/week but Winston want to hire a third person to work in the city clerk's office because Merlene is not capable of doing her job. Is this board that obtuse? Merlene couldn't prepare a budget so Winston allowed the hiring of Richard Rose; an expense of $1,600 that wasn't included in the budget. Merlene claimed she was never trained for budgetarty so the board sent her for more training that cost over $1,200. Now Merlene is asking for more help; help that's going to cost the citizens of Lumberton but they can't find money for police protection, to give the court clerk a full 40/week, or to pay $75 registration fee for a conference Alderwoman at Large Cora Rogers wanted to attend but whenever Merlene cry she can't, Winston is ready to hand over the taxpayers checkbook. If she can't do the job with the tools provided, it's time to put on her big girl panties, pull up the slip that's showing and get out the way so a qualified person can fill that position. As far as I know, no action was taken but it's going to be interesting to see how the Winston 3 (McGraw, Crider and Dukes) vote on this matter. I will keep you informed. Hopefully, the next meeting will be scheduled at a reasonable time. Please enjoy your weekend and pray for the police officer working a 36 hour shift. Thank you for your services and I pray for your safety. Please govern yourselves accordingly.