BEAR CREEK - A motion on the table to hire a new town clerk and move present clerk Jamie White to water clerk was one of two major votes that fell by the wayside because of a lack of a second from the Bear Creek Town Council.
However, the vote to approve the resignation of water department manager Tyson Brown was approved, as well as the part time hires of Rob Taylor, at $18 an hour, and Chris Hyde, at $17 an hour, to work in the water department on projects, both being ADEM certified.
In the absence of Brown, both Taylor and Hyde had helped the town in its ADEM certification, Mayor Tammie Batchelor informed the council.
The council also agreed to post the vacancy for water department manager.
During the council’s regular meeting Monday, March 9, Mayor Batchelor explained the reasons why Green should be water clerk and the town clerk’s position be posted.
“With the election coming up and bringing on a new water department manager, and there’s so much stuff with the camp ground, it’s just too much for one person to do,” Mayor Batchelor stated.
“I feel like she (Jamie) needs the help. There’s so much the town needs, and Jamie’s hands are tied. There is only so much one person can do.”
Batchelor said Jamie was juggling the jobs of town clerk as well as water clerk, court clerk and magistrate.
At one time, the town had both a town clerk and a water clerk, but now all of those duties have been placed upon Jamie, town officials said.
“That’s several hats for one person to wear,” the mayor continued.
“Jamie, we have discussed this, and she has mixed emotions about this,” Batchelor noted. “She is apprehensive.”
Mayor Batchelor then submitted her proposal to the council for discussion.
“I’d like to consider hiring a city clerk and let Jamie be full time water clerk and devote her time to that,” she said.
Council member Jimmy Preston made a motion to post for a full time city clerk.
Council member Chris Gillum then spoke out with concerns.
Gillum cited earlier discussions at the meeting about the council voting to purchase equipment for the water department and a decision made in a previous meeting to purchase a garbage truck--so the town would be out from under the umbrella of Marion County Waste Management collection services.
“I don’t know,” Gillum said. “I have seen both parts of it, where we had two people, and one (at another building) and the other up here.
“We brought it all in house, and I thought it worked fine for a while,” Gillum added. “I am mixed about it. I see both sides of it.
“I am just thinking about costs and benefits and things like that,” he said. “That’s what’s worrying me. We’re talking about taking on another expense, especially when we have to pay in retirement and insurance. That’s more money we’re spending.
“I keep harping on the money thing, I know,” Gillum continued. “But guys, we just borrowed a lot bunch of money, did we not, and I have caught grief over it, and I’m sorry.
“I am trying to fix it, before I go out of office,” Gillum said. He had already stated in the meeting that he did not plan to seek reelection in the upcoming August municipal elections.
“The next batch can hire two or three (clerks) and let the chips fall where they may,” Gillum said. “But I am trying to get a handle on it.
“I am not real big on continuing deficit spending,” he pointed out.
Gillum suggested the issue be tabled until the next council meeting this Monday, March 16. He also cited the council didn’t need to vote on the issue because council member James Loden was absent.
“I am not shooting everything down, I just want to look at it some more and stuff,” Gillum stated.
Clerk Green then suggested Preston withdraw his motion, since there was not going to be a second and the issue tabled until the Monday night council meeting.
Water Supervisor Resignation Accepted, 2 part-time hired
Concerning the issue of water department manager, Tyson Brown is no longer working for the town, Mayor Batchelor reported.
“There were some issues and he felt like it best that he leave,” Mayor Batchelor said.
The mayor then suggested a vacancy in the position of water department manager.
Mayor Batchelor noted she had to reach out to Taylor and Hyde requesting if they would work part time to work with two present employees that are not ADEM certified.
“Chris Hyde and Rob (Taylor) have both agreed to go on permanent part-time, that means whomever we hire that would be ADEM certified, if those people leave, that they would still be willing to work with us no matter who comes and goes, they would fill in no matter what, at any given time,” Mayor Batchelor explained.
She added that neither Hyde nor Taylor were in the position to work full time for the town, but have been working with some tests required by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
Mayor Batchelor recommended Taylor be paid $18 an hour, with Hyde being paid $17 for their part time status. Both are ADEM certified, she added.
Since Taylor and Hyde both have worked to help the town to meet ADEM certification, the town owes them money for the time worked, the mayor said.
Preston made a motion under immediate consideration to hire Taylor and Hyde at the amounts earlier stated under part time.
Council member Chris Gillum seconded the motion, and all council members voted in favor, including Preston, Gillum and Heath Heatherly. Loden was absent from the meeting.
Preston then made a motion to hire both part time as stated under immediate consideration. Gillum also seconded and all present voted in favor.
Gillum then made a motion to post a job opening for water department manager, which was seconded and all voted in favor.
Attorney Cole Christopher said the salary should be set based on certification. Council members agreed that the applicants should be able to operate equipment and have a CDL license.
Among other business, Kathy Preston, manager of Twin Forks Campgrounds, asked the council if she should be allowed to accept cash for campsite rentals. Last year, she accepted cash but in the rules or regulations, only checks or money orders could be accepted.
“I explained to everyone they would get a receipt for everything they come in and give me, any kind of money whatsoever,” Kathy said. “I audit my receipt book to the audit that I make my deposit of, and Jamie audits my deposit before it goes to the bank.”
Mayor Batchelor informed the council she had advised Kathy to ask the council, since the rules for the campgrounds do not include the acceptance of cash.
“As long as you have receipts to back everything up, you are good to go,” Attorney Cole Christopher said.
“It’s putting you more at risk,” Gillum added. “But if you are willing to accept that risk, I am fine with it.”
Mayor Batchelor said the vote on this needed to be tabled, because Kathy’s husband Jimmy couldn’t vote and Loden was absent.
Resident Ricky Hines addressed the mayor and council that if Preston was allowed to accept cash, that would place but her and the town at a greater liability.
“If you remember where we came from, all of it was because of cash money,” Hines stated. “Cash money about turned this city upside down.
“This town just about came unglued because of cash money,” Hines said. “I don’t want (Kathy) put in that situation. I don’t want her husband put in that situation. I don’t want (town clerk) Jamie put in that situation, none of us.”
When cash is accepted, it is one person’s word against another, Hines explained.
“Y’all think that over real hard,” he said.
“I don’t want her reputation ever to be put on the line,” Mayor Batchelor stated.
Kathy said some customers want to pay with debit or credit cards, but her office at the campgrounds does not have a land line in order to do the transaction.
Mayor Batchelor noted she would look into getting a device where Kathy could accept card payments using a cell phone. The mayor added that Traders and Farmers Bank could help the town set up that process.
That way, when a payment is received, the funds would go automatically into the Twin Forks checking account, the mayor further explained.
Street Department Supervisor Andrew Welborn asked the council about some much needed equipment purchases including a Kabota lawn mower at $5,900 for the lowest bid and back hoe at $2,250.
Welborn noted the town had much work to do, and needed more and reliable equipment in which to do it.
“My only concern right now, I understand what you are saying,” began Gillum, “my concern is we’re about to buy...a garbage truck, which I’m glad we’re doing...because I got tired of what Waste Management was doing to us and our customers.
“On the flip side, I want to get rolling with it and make sure there are no unknown problems...on expenditures,” Gillum added.
“That’s the only thing that concerns me. I am worried about the money. That’s my only concern, about buying any other equipment I want to make sure we get off the ground running with the garbage truck,” Gillum continued.
Street Employee Yogi Setliff that he and Welborn have had to use their own personal equipment for the town due to the shortage of equipment.
Cost of the previously approved garbage truck is $25,000 with the $5,900 cost of the lawn mower and $2,250 cost of the back hoe, council members discussed. These costs would come from $70,000 in available line of credit the town has.
Gillum said he would approve the lawn mower purchase. “I understand that, especially for the ball fields and the park,” he said.
Heatherly later made a motion to purchase a back hoe for the street department based on the low bid produced by Welborn.
Preston seconded the motion, and all voted in favor., meaning the town council gave approval for both the lawn mower and back hoe to the purchased to help the road department.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.