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Williamson City Council Special Called Meeting
July 25, 2022

The Williamson City Council held a Special Called Meeting on July 25, 2022 at 6 p.m. Those in attendance included Mayor Steve Fry, Council Members Angela Martin, Tom Brown, Carol Berry, Steve Davis, Steve Levin, City Attorney Rob Morton, and City Clerk Pamela Schoentag.

[Note from the Editor: If any City Council member feels like I have missed something on this, please let me know. I'll be happy to include your concerns and whatever I missed -- especially because I was not at the last meeting. If I am incorrect on anything, please contact me immediately so I can note the mistake and correct it.]

It was noted at the beginning of the meeting that according to the city's charter, the meeting can only have the two items on the agenda.

At the last meeting, there was a vote to accept a contract to clean City Hall and the Library. Mayor Fry advised that this $6,000 needed a funding source. He said that he listened to the tape, but a definite beginning date wasn’t made. A contract was also needed to begin. After the vote had been taken and the contract approved, the Mayor spoke to both the City Clerk and the Librarian, and they said that this isn’t needed. They could do this. He even mentioned that it might be possible to pay them a little extra for cleaning because it was more than what was in their job descriptions.

[Note from the Editor: This discussion began in the April 7, 2022 meeting with a suggestion from Council Member Carol Berry that we need another bid for a cleaning crew to come in once a week and clean city hall, the library, and the caboose. Mop the floors, dust the spider webs, and clean the bathrooms. Prepare a bid proposal and put it out for bid. There was a second, and it was approved 5-0. www.pikecountytimes.com/secondary/williamson4.7.22.html Council Member Angela Martin gathered information for this. Mayor Steve Fry measured the areas in order to put the bid out. I attended the May meeting pikecountytimes.com/secondary/williamson5.12.22.html] but not the June meeting.]

Mayor Fry said that he wanted to be sure that everyone was on the same page. $6,000 also needs to be budgeted for this contract. Council was advised that the winner of the contract and her employee showed up to do the cleaning on Wednesday afternoon. They were told that we were trying to get some things straightened out and did not clean that day.

The vote was to do the cleaning service twice monthly at $500 per month for $6,000 a year. Must have a contract that is reviewed by the county attorney after being voted into existence.

Council Member Angela Martin said that we voted 5-0 on this. Angela said that neither city employee said anything to her at the time, and she has been working on this contract for 3 months. She made a motion to continue to use the people who were hired to clean, do a contract for her, and it will come out of the General Fund.

Discussion: Council Member Tom Brown said that this was discussed at a prior meeting. This is not the first time that we have discussed and voted on something and then had things change after walking out of the door. The ice house was moved after the vote. We are supposed to vote these things and then follow through.

Mayor Fry said that this is not done, and it is not agreed upon by the city yet. The start date is the problem. Council Member Angela Martin said that there was mention of her coming on Wednesday prior to her coming to City Hall to clean around 3:30 p.m. Council Member Martin said that she didn't receive a call about this. Clerk Pamela Schoentag said that she called the mayor at the time and asked for guidance on the matter since she did not have instructions on this.

Council Member Tom Brown said that if we’ve spent the time taking bids, it should count for something. Mayor Fry said that he was under the impression that it was wanted. Council Member Brown said that as a small business owner said, he could see where there would be problems with the city getting bids.

More discussion: We don’t have W-9 or insurance either. Council Member Tom Brown said that we haven’t done this with others. We have asked for insurance on the person cutting the grass right now. Mayor Fry said that the grass needed to be cut, and the council agreed to have companies come in as needed on a one by one basis until they decided on a contract.

So even a one time thing with a water leak like tonight, we need to have insurance for this person? Council Member Tom Brown said that we need to have this. This is the 3rd repair that he has made, but we don’t have his insurance yet. We know that he has an operator’s license and insurance. Council members and the Mayor have done work out there, and they don’t have insurance. More discussion on insurance.

Council Member Tom Brown said that we need to be more respectful of people who bid on stuff because they’ve bought items to clean for the city.

[Note from the Editor: This discussion got rather heated at times. And while I've attended some meetings earlier this year that also had some frustration in them, I am trying to track down the source of frustration for this particular meeting. I have put in an open records request to see the request for bids from the city as well as the proposals and amounts that were quoted to the city. I also plan to be at the next meeting on Thursday, August 4 to follow up. When I receive the information about the contracts, I will make a dated addendum and add that information to this write up.]

Back to the topic at hand. What funding source because we’ve already hired her? Council Member Angela Martin suggested maybe a 6 month trial. Then can terminate the contract after that if needed. She’s already hired someone to help her and purchased equipment to clean for the City. Council Member Tom Brown said that most places are 30 days.

Attorney Rob Morton advised that we have a motion in the minutes to accept the bid. Until a motion is made to rescind it, that’s what we have. Unless there is a written veto, this is the action of the council.

Discussion on a start date. She could start August 3 or 4 because Thursdays are better for Milla. Council Member Carol Berry said that Pamela’s schedule is slack now, but municipal court and City Clerk training will be coming up. Let’s see how this goes. Some weeks Milla is running every single day. She didn't hear about Milla and Pamela doing this until after the vote. Is there some contingency money left?

Attorney Rob Morton suggested making a motion and then making suggestion for a funding source.

More discussion. It was pointed out that if we spend money for employees to clean or pay someone outside, it’s still taxpayer money being spent. Our loyal employees had made a request for help in the past and the council was responding to this. Do we still have enough Grounds and Maintenance to do this?

Question. Attorney Rob Morton was asked if a resolution is veto-able? State law uses the word ordinance and resolution interchangeable at times. Approving a contract would be an act. It’s not creating a law. Some would argue that anything could be vetoed but if the charter says ordinance, I’d argue for that first.

More discussion on where the money will come from since it was not budgeted at the first of the year. Maintenance left over in the Library and City Hall. They have enough that would pay for the first 6 months. Let’s see if they do a good job and if the ladies want them to continue doing this. Council can make a motion for the budget officer to choose where this comes from. Can adjust this by our auditor if needed or make a budget amendment. The vote can still be authorized and the city be overbudget until the adjustment is made.

Recommendation to split it between two line items? Further discussion that painting, pressure washing, stripping the floors and rewaxing, etc. are items that have been paid for in the past with with fund. Grounds and Maintenance. Only need $2,500 for this.

Motion to make Thursday, August 4 as the first day and that the money would come from Grounds and Maintenance. Approved 5-0. Wendy Moulder is the one that the contract should be made out for. Attorney Rob Morton suggested approving this subject contingent upon the written contract that will be reviewed at the August 4 meeting so everyone is on the same page.

How much insurance should she have? Suggestion for million dollars as being typical. We can ask the carrier for a recommendation. They will be here tomorrow. Worker’s Comp is the big thing. Can we get a quote on the floors from her? She could even send a general contract so Attorney Morton doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

2. Water system. Council Member Tom Brown was given the task by Council Member Carol Berry for Utilities and Water. He said that he didn’t mind doing it and still doesn’t mind doing it, but Water Superintendent Scott Huckaby said that he wanted everything to go through the mayor so Council Member Tom Brown stepped back from his duties. Mayor Steve Fry said this was requested because they have a lot of stuff going on so there is one source of information. Council Member Brown said that some council members don’t get some information until the meeting. He said that everyone should be getting the same information. Mayor Fry said that he is trying to send out information by email. Council Member Brown said that sometimes he feels like he’s on the outside looking in. Mayor Fry said that he welcomes Council Member Brown doing this. Same thing goes for animal control. Mayor Fry said that he doesn’t mind others doing the work.

City Attorney Rob Morton asked for clarity on this topic. Council Member Tom Brown was appointed over water. He has relinquished that job back to the Mayor. He was the liaison. The Mayor has handed that back to Council Member Carol Berry. City Attorney Morton pointed out that council members are doing work without getting payment.

Motion to adjourn. 6:56 p.m.

[Note from the Editor: My first thought on this entire situation is that there is a communication problem. Members are trying to ensure that everyone is included in emails by emphasizing that they need to click reply all when there is an email from the city, but it's a process that they are working through. Library Manager Milla Riglin and City Clerk Pamela Schoentag are both new in their positions and may not have understood exactly what was going on. Or they may not have felt like they could say something at the beginning of this process. Hopefully, this is the first and only time that something like this happens. On the flip side, $500 a month ($6,000 a year) is a lot to pay for a cleaning service when there was a discussion in a prior meeting about closing the library because it was $19,000 to run in 2021 and would be $32,454 in 2022 (at that time) and would be 16% of the city’s budget. www.pikecountytimes.com/secondary/BREAKINGNEWSwilliamsonlibrary1.20.22.html has a history of the Williamson Library from 2008 to 2022 as well as meeting notes from the February 3, 2022 meeting which include the numbers I just quoted.

My final thought is that citizens in Williamson had a 15.70% turnout in the 2021 election: pikecountytimes.com/secondary/BREAKINGNEWSelection11.2.2021.html. Being ready, able, and willing to run for office as well as attending and/or keeping up with meetings is a sacrifice for your community. I would know because I've been attending meetings in our county for 20 years. It matters.]

Pike County Times will update this article when the open records information is received.