Town postpones decisions until full council seated

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By David Meade

Williamston Town Council postponed making a decision on funding for two events and two other big decision items until a full council could be present.

Faye Meares represented the GWBA for a funding request for Party in the Park event. Debbie Chapman represented the Park Fest event for a funding request. Decisions on both requests were tabled along with a vote on moving dispatch services to Anderson County, a vote on a ClearWater proposal and a vote on a uniform contract.

Councilman Otis Scott requested the agenda items be tabled until a full council could be present. The council had a bare minimum quorum of two councilmembers and the mayor at the meeting.

During discussions, the mayor expressed (disappointment) that a vote was not taken on the dispatch services and the Clear Water contract.

“We are a quorum and have the responsibility to carry on the business of the town,” the mayor said. “The cost savings will be lingering and will be a further expense to our town.”

Durham said the dispatch services alone will amount to $200,000 in savings while the new contract with ClearWater Solutions will also save the town money.

Councilman Scott responded, “You are not saving as much money as you say.” Scott questioned the cost of sludge removal and chemicals the town will be responsible for under the new contract. Both expenses are covered in the present contract with the company.

ClearWater Solutions is contracted to operate and maintain the town’s recently upgraded Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP).

Councilman Scott also stated that the town must amend the budget to approve any new expenditures from the Hospitality Tax fund and he said that new expenditures from the fund are required to be voted on by the full council.

After taking a 2-1 vote on the motion to table the items and on a planning commission appointment, Town Attorney Richard Thompson requested an executive session to discuss a point of order.

Upon returning to open session, the council rescinded the previous votes and Thompson explained that for a motion to carry there had to be a unanimous vote of three members of the five member council, even if two members were not present.

The council then agreed again to table the items, this time unanimously.

Mayor Durham stated, “Although several items were not addressed, we will have a full council at the next meeting. These are good men who do have the interest of the community at heart.”

He then read a prepared statement covering a number of town related issues.

Durham said town officials have been working diligently on the budget but did have another unexpected expense.

According to the Mayor, the town is paying $56,000 in wages due to improper payroll procedures under the previous administration.

The back wages are being paid to former dispatchers who are under different pay requirements than regular police officers.

The discrepancy is related to the number of hours a police officer can work and how overtime is paid.

The mayor announced that there will be a special called meeting of Williamston Town Council on Thursday, Apr. 11 at 6 p.m. to resolve the matter of what to do with the current administrator. The Town’s Administrator, Phyllis Lollis has been suspended since Durham took office on Jan. 2.

At their first meeting of the year, Council put off making a decision on what to do with the position until a full council could be seated.

The Ward 2 seat was decided Tuesday in a special election and will be filled by Rockey Burgess.

At the start of their meeting Monday, the Town of Williamston held a public hearing on the annexation of property at 1503 Anderson Dr. No one spoke during the hearing. The property is in the process of being developed for a new Family Dollar store location.