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Council attempts balance

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By Natasha LaFayette

With two additions to the agenda, the LaFollette Council meeting was quickly underway on Tuesday night. Councilmen Hansford Hatmaker and Wayne Kitts both added items to the agenda at the start of the meeting, but did not state the nature of the items.

As the council addressed new business, Mayor Mike Stanfield motioned to Hatmaker, saying, “Don’t you have something about part-time help?”

Stanfield was referring to the item Hatmaker added to the agenda

Hatmaker then put the item, which was an unspecified addition to the agenda, in the form of a motion.

“That Megan Hill be transferred from part-time to full-time,” said Hatmaker. “She’s been with the city since August 7, 2007.”

“We’ve got a place for her,” Hatmaker added.

With the effective starting date of Feb. 14 and a starting salary of $18,000, Hatmaker made his motion to hire Hill.

Stanfield looked in the direction of Councilman Joe Bolinger and asked for a second on the motion. Bolinger made the motion and Stanfield asked for a role call.

Councilman Bob Fannon interrupted, asking for discussion on the hire.

“This is the first time I have ever seen a person that is going to be hired full-time that has not been recommended by a department head or by the city administrator,” said Fannon.

“Did we interview; did we see any applications? I know Ms. Hill and I think she would be a great employee but I think we should go through the proper procedure.”

Stanfield stated he spoke with Police Chief Ben Baird prior to his resignation and Baird recommended Hill. Stanfield then asked for a letter of recommendation, which was not available at the meeting.

Fannon asked City Administrator David Young if he was aware of the transfer of Hill from part-time employee in the police department office to full-time employee in the administrative office.

“I have no involvement or opinion,” said Young.

Fannon asked the council to table the request until next month when applications could be reviewed and more information made available.

Hatmaker interrupted saying, “I have got a motion on the floor and a second.”

During the role call vote Stanfield broke the tie, passing the motion made by Hatmaker and Bolinger. Both Kitts and Fannon voted against the hiring of Hill.

Kitts then stated his addition to the agenda.

Before asking City Attorney Reid Troutman to clarify the duties of the mayor, council and administrator Kitts made a statement to the audience.

“I have read the charter concerning the duties of office holders and elected officials, and I think I know what they are, but I’d like Mr. Troutman to tell us the chain of command to run this city in a professional and businesslike manner,” said Kitts who alluded to the dispute of duties of mayor and council during the last workshop. “I think a lot of times we get too many chiefs and not enough indians.”

Though Troutman did not directly read from the charter he gave his opinion about issues on the council.

“There are conflicts on this council and you guys have a job to do. You have to set aside your personality conflicts or whatever the deal is and work together to get this resolved. The charter is pretty clear, its black and white on what the responsibilities are. It doesn’t matter what I’ve got to say or really what that charter says, you guys are going to have to put aside those differences and work together and get the business of this city accomplished,” said Troutman.

Stanfield then stated he had read the charter and perhaps he had overstepped his bounds in some ways.

“I will be here everyday,” said Stanfield. “You have elected me to do a job and I’m going to do this job. And I’ll do the best I can. Sometimes we forget who we work for and who pays our salary, and I apologize for that.”

Young stated that in the public eye it has appeared there is a power struggle between the mayor and council with himself.

“I am not struggling for any power at all, I have not tried to usurp even the power I do have and I don’t even like the word power,” said Young.

“There is not struggle between me and the mayor and there is no struggle between me and the council. We differ on opinions sometime but that’s why there is so many up here. I think we have the opportunity to make LaFollette shine. I am not in a power struggle, I do not want to exercise all the power that I have here but I do want to be able to fulfill the duties that I have so that I can serve the people cause I am not only bound by the charter to do those duties but I am contractually bound to do those duties and I want to do those duties,” said Young.

Stanfield reiterated his dedication to the city at that point.

Kitts, who started the discussion of mayor and council responsibilities, stated he came to the city with the intention to move it forward.

“We do not need to get undermined or blindsided by anybody,” said Kitts. “When we come to the meeting and get ready to hire somebody, everybody should know what’s going on.”

“We didn’t do it properly, we had people that were left out,” said Kitts concerning the hiring of Hill. “Let’s all work together and let’s communicate one to another and let’s all know what’s going on and things will run a lot smoother.”

Stanfield took the opportunity to further reiterate his dedication to the city.

At the start of the meeting, the lease agreement of St. Mary’s Hospital was briefly reviewed. Young read the original agreement between the hospital and the city, stating the lease gave an option of a five-year extension.

Fannon said he did not recall any talk about a five-year agreement and requested the item be tabled until Troutman arrived. When Troutman arrived he gave the opinion that the lease was based on five-year increments. The council then unanimously approved the lease agreement.

Four LaFollette Police officers were given commendations during the meeting. Baird commended two officers for heroic actions and Stanfield commended two officers for their response to a home burglary.