Town abandons mayor’s dispatch plans; fire issues still looming in Jellico

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By Beth Braden

Four months after approving fire dispatch changes, Jellico’s board of aldermen reverted to the schedule used prior to the February vote.
During a May 22 meeting, the board abandoned Mayor Les Stiers’ plan, as well as Alderwoman Pam Carbaugh’s plan.
“Everybody was so happy about that, so much encouragement,” she said Tuesday.  
Stiers was not present at the meeting, according to Carbaugh, when the decision was made.
The board had been discussing dispatch for more than a month by the time the decision was made to scrap both plans.
Until May 22, the fire department was operating on a plan designed by Stiers.
Carbaugh was displeased with his plan and believed her system would save more money.
At the April board meeting, the group engaged in a lengthy discussion about the plans, with Carbaugh saying she didn’t understand the scheduling. On April 29, the board reconvened for a workshop in which the mayor laid out his plan in large, color-coded charts about the plans and the savings.
Carbaugh voiced her displeasure then, because she said the mayor implemented his plan without council approval. Also she disliked pay raises and the idea of crews on “stand-by.” She was also dissatisfied with the fact that two part-time workers, Brett Voyles and Robert Rookard would be brought to full-time.
“My thoughts are if you don’t cut nobody, how do you save anything, and to me, that’s the bottom line,” Carbaugh said on May 20.
During the regularly scheduled board meeting on May 16, she made the motion to implement her dispatch plan instead of the mayor’s.
Carbaugh’s plan would make cuts that she estimated could save the town $70,000.
“I’d like for if it’s [her plan] passed, there will be no extra insurance, there’ll be no holiday pay, there’ll be no vacation pay, no workers’ comp, no increase in wages and we’ll go by seniority,” she said.
Town Attorney Terry Basista informed Carbaugh that workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory.
Nobody was willing to offer a second to Carbaugh’s motion.
The original February vote took place in order to save the town $41,000. Since reverting to the old schedule, it was unclear what the board would cut to compensate for those savings, as it works on the 2013-14 budget.
“We’ll make it work. There’s other things we can cut,” Carbaugh said.
Dispatch discussions also resulted in a cease and desist letter to the board from a citizen.
Ranee Voyles, mother of fireman Brett Voyles, addressed Carbaugh on May 16.
“I am here to tell Ms. Carbaugh she better back off on Brett,” she said.
She distributed a typed letter to each of the board members.
“I haven’t said anything about Brett,” Carbaugh said. “I’m working on dispatch.”
“Here is [notice] to you what you’ve done wrong according to my lawyer,” Voyles said. Among claims in the letter are:
• Carbaugh stated Brett Voyles is unqualified to work for the town as a fireman and dispatcher
• Carbaugh stated Jerry Perkins “should have the job working as fireman/dispatcher instead of Brett.”
• Carbaugh  “made negative remarks about Brett’s ability to work as a fireman in numerous public meetings.”
• Carbaugh “demanded specific medical information about Brett” on May 5 and “stated he had an infection and he would not be working for the [Town] of Jellico much longer.”
• Carbaugh “demanded” court reporter Jackie Richardson to drug test Brett Voyles, Red Lynch and Jerry Perkins.
 “If all harassment and false allegations do not cease immediately, it is my intention to file suit against Ms. Carbaugh and the [Town] of Jellico,” the end of Renee Voyles’ letter read.
It was signed by Brett Voyles, Renee Voyles and Bryan Voyles.
The mayor asked that the letter be added as an attachment to the meeting packet.
Carbaugh declined to comment on the letter after the meeting.
“I was told to leave that alone and not stir the pot,” she said.
Budget talks will continue tonight at 5 p.m. at the Municipal Building.