The Mayor and City Council met for a workshop Wednesday afternoon in order to discuss the appointment for the Councilman of Dist. D, the 20/21 City Budget, and planned for a special session immediately after during which they would vote to pass the aforementioned budget.
Three councilmen were present for this meeting, those being Councilmen Wayne Edwards of Dist. A, Vincen Bradford of Dist. C, and Pam Bloxom of Dist. E.
The first item they discussed was that of the appointment for the Councilman of Dist. D. “As most of you now we have a vacancy … and I’ve had several people call me from district D as well as throughout the city … and the one they talked to me about the most was Tommy Davis. Tommy has over 5 years experience I believe as a city councilman and 5 years experience as mayor,” said Gardner. “I think he would be a good choice to finish the term out until we get the election in March.”
When it was time for discussion, a conversation held between Vincen Bradford, Councilman of Dist. C, and Administrative Assistant Wanda Pitman revealed that there had been a miscommunication about what would be discussed at the City Council meeting.
To further clarify, this workshop took place and was immediately followed by a special session. On the agenda, it stated that the items to be discussed in the workshop included the Appointment of Interim Council Representative for Dist. D and the Minden City Budget for 20/21. The only item that was on the agenda for the special session following immediately after that would require a vote was the adoption of the City Council Budget.
“So if I leave y’all won’t have a quorum to do this,” said Bradford, who proceeded to leave the room.
Afterward, Mayor Gardner stated that discussion would still take place, but made it clear no votes could be made.
Shortly after Bradford returned, stating, “The meeting is adjourned,” which was met by Gardner’s reply, “No sir, this is a workshop.”
Bradford seemed content to sit in for the workshop, but insisted that he wouldn’t sit in for anything else.
The discussion of the interim Councilman for District. D continued. The people that have asked me about the replacement who were very concerned, when I said Tommy Davis was considering coming on board and bringing his expertise and his experience, everybody that was talking to me was most relieved. I want to personally thank Tommy for stepping up and doing this for us. I hope this works out so that he can be here. I don’t think what we need at this point is someone who is like myself who came on board with no experience at all. That seems like a point of contention that we’ve had to deal with for the last 18 months. So once again, everyone I’ve talked to wants Tommy here.
Davis made it clear that if he was wanted he would serve, but if there was someone else that the Councilmen had in mind, that he wouldn’t be opposed to them serving either.
“If I’m wanted, and I’m needed, I’ll serve. If there is somebody else that someone would rather have than me, then I’m alright like this, because I have plenty of other things to do. But I’d be willing to give six months back to the city, and see if I can be a benefit to it,” said Davis.
“Everybody in this community that I’ve talked to would appreciate you coming on board with your knowledge and your expertise,” said Gardner.
When asked for comment, Councilman Wayne Edwards of Dist. A spoke more of the meeting as a whole instead of the particular topic at hand.
“I think this is my third workshop, and I’m sick and tired of the tension. This council should be able to select individuals, approve a budget, without all the hassle. And even if we end up with a council with four members on it, we should never be in a position where the Mayor will have to vote to break the tie because that means we haven’t done our job. I’m tired of it, and to be honest with you, I don’t even know if it’s working for me,” said Edwards.
Afterward the question of whether or not the appointment of the interim councilman would be on the agenda for the next City Council meeting. Since the Mayor and Council are waiting for Bradford to name his potential candidate for Dist. D Councilman and get them into contact with the Mayor for a recommendation, it was decided that it would not be on next month’s agenda.
When it came to the discussion of the budget, only two major changes had taken place since last month, that being that addition of the seven school crossing guard salaries and repair costs for the REC Center.
The air conditioner being $35,000 and the fence being $13,000, the total for those seven school crossing guards was $32,595. So I came up with a total we needed to add to the budget, $80,595.
Room in the budget for these changes was made by cutting some other items from the REC Center’s wishlist, a laptop for the Human Resources director, and a portion of the Public Works Director salary, a position that has been vacant since Oct. of 2017.
“So the thought process was that we had budgeted for the public works director for $82,000 dollars, so we’ve had that vacancy since Oct of 2017 and it hasn’t been replaced. Even if we found a candidate and started the process, I’m thinking that they won’t be on tomorrow so we wouldn’t need the whole year’s salary. So I took the difference that we need to cover the general fund from that salary and reduced that salary down to $41,405 for the year,” said Martha Conly, Assistant City Clerk.
Afterward the workshop, the special session was officially declared. Councilman Bloxom said of the Budget, shortly before she motioned in the item, “I wish that we could have given everyone everything on their wishlist, unfortunately, that is just not a reality at this point,” said Seconded by Councilman Edwards, the item passed with two in favor and one opposed, the two in favor being Councilmen Bloxom and Edwards, and the one opposed being Councilman Bradford.
Afterward, the Council and Mayor clarified that the next City Council meeting would have increased occupancy up to 75% of its maximum, however people would still have to adhere to the social distancing guidelines of 6 feet. They did state that they could seat any overflow in the Civic Center for members of the public who came and wanted to address the Mayor and Council in person.
The Regular Session of the City Council Meeting will take place Monday, Oct. 5 starting at 5:30 p.m. it can also be viewed live at the City of Minden’s Youtube Channel, City of Minden – Feels Like Home.