Alderman claims Mount Carmel workshops 'wasting taxpayers' money'

Jeff Bobo • Oct 26, 2019 at 6:00 PM

MOUNT CARMEL — The Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 3-2 Thursday in favor of the second and final reading of an ordinance establishing a monthly workshop meeting.

The two aldermen opposed to the workshop sessions said they aren't productive and are a “waste of money.”

The ordinance sets the monthly BMA workshop on the second Tuesday each month at 6:30 p.m., and this meeting would be for discussion of issues with no voting or decisions made.

The Mount Carmel BMA meets in regular session on the fourth Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m.

The addition of a workshop was recommended by City Manager Mike Housewright.

“If Mount Carmel is going to move forward, it will be through good communication and cooperation at the board level,” Housewright told the Times News on Friday. “I believe the establishment of monthly work sessions is a tremendous step in that direction.”

“We're wasting taxpayers’ money”

Alderman Jim Gilliam asked if the workshops are really necessary.

The mayor receives $200 per meeting, and the aldermen receive $50 each per meeting, which would set the annual cost of the monthly workshops at $6,000.

“I think we're wasting taxpayers’ money,” Gilliam said.

Mayor Chris Jones noted that Kingsport “wastes taxpayers money” with workshops.

Gilliam: “I don't care about Kingsport. We're talking about Mount Carmel.”

Jones: “We're trying to get organized and move on to the future way business should be run — work out issues and bring issues to light that might need to be worked out before the BMA meeting.”

Gilliam suggested that the workshops be unpaid, and Jones said he would be in favor of that.

“You never know what I might do”

Alderman Carl Wolfe noted, however, that a sitting board can't change pay for itself. It can only change pay for the next board, to take effect after the next election.

Jones: “You can come up later and make a motion that future board members make less money.”

Gilliam: “You never know what I might do.”

Alderman Steven McLain said he doesn't believe anything was accomplished during the two workshops that have taken place since he took office.

McLain and Gilliam voted against the ordinance, while Jones, Wolfe and Jennifer Williams voted in favor.

Committee appointments

The BMA approved the appointment of two new members on the Library Board, which meets the second Monday each month at 7 p.m.; and two new members on the Public Utilities Board, which meets the second Tuesday in February, May, August and November.

The additions to the Library Board are Sherri Trent and Naomi Puckett, who join current members Jennifer Williams, Jonna Williams, Syble Trent, Rebecca Cornwell and Crystal Smith.

The additions to the Public Utility Board are Walter Cline and Mindy Fleishour, who join current board members Chris Jones, Don Taylor and Steve Epperson.

The vote was 4-1 with Gilliam voting no. Gilliam was critical of municipal board and committee members who don’t attend the monthly BMA meeting.

Traffic light upgrade grant

The BMA agreed to apply for a Tennessee Department of Transportation grant up to $250,000 to make improvements to its current red light at Hammond Avenue and 11-W/Main Street.

Among the issues that the grant funding could be used for are timing optimization plan, stop bar detection, advance detection, pedestrian signal, pedestrian push button, controller, controller cabinet, cabinet equipment, signal head/beacon, signal head backplates and supplemental signal head.

Housewright noted that the city has been having problems with the timing on the existing lights, and without the grant any repairs it makes would be at the city's expense.

This grant doesn't pertain to the TDOT-approved new red light, which is supposed to be installed at 11-W and Englewood Avenue.

Large item pickup ordinance

The BMA tabled an ordinance that establishes guidelines for large item pickup.

Mount Carmel currently has no policy that specifically discusses large item pickup by the brush truck.

The proposed ordinance would limit large item pickup to the fourth week of the month.

Holiday meeting reschedules

The regular BMA meeting dates were scheduled to take place on Thanksgiving Day and the day after Christmas.

The board agreed to reschedule those meetings for Nov. 21 and Dec. 19, one week prior to the regular meeting dates. The workshops for those months would still be at the regular scheduled time on Nov. 14 and Dec. 12.

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