By David Meade
A special called meeting of Williamston Town Council will be held at 6 p.m. this Thursday, Apr. 11 to resolve the matter of what to do about the town’s administrator position and on several other “big decision” issues. Phyllis Lollis was suspended from her duties as the town administrator by Mayor Dr. R. Mack Durham when he took office on Jan. 2.
During their first meeting of the new year, Durham encouraged the council to eliminate the position however at the request of Councilman Otis Scott, Council put off making a decision on what to do with the position until a full council could be seated.
Lollis has remained on suspension with pay since then.
The Ward 2 seat, which has been vacant since Durham took over as mayor, was decided in a special election held last week and the seat will be represented by Williamston businessman Rockey Burgess.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Burgess said he supports eliminating the position of administrator as long as there is someone providing some oversight on the town’s finances.
“I will vote to eliminate that position,” Burgess said. “It has nothing to do with the job performance of Mrs. Lollis and is not a reflection on her, but has to do with the current situation of her being on suspension.”
Burgess said he is “comfortable with (financial advisor) Boyd Greene providing some degree of oversight on the town’s finances.”
Mayor Durham said he expects council to defund the administrators position when they take action on the issue at the special meeting Thursday.
According to the Mayor, the push to eliminate the position is not related to a recent ethics complaint against Lollis, but has to do with saving the town money.
“We have created savings through proper management in the the administrator’s absence,” Durham said. “It is an unnecessary position at this time.”
According to Durham, decisions made since the new administration took over including transferring the 911 dispatch to Anderson County and correcting overspending in the police department will save the town money in the upcoming budget year.
The dispatch transfer will save the town an estimated $200,000 and help reduce the police department budget, he said.
According to Durham, the police department budget will be cut from $983,000 to $835,000 in the upcoming budget year.
Williamston Police Chief Tony Taylor said the 911 transfer will eliminate four jailer/dispatcher positions.
The decision on the 911 call transfer was one of the items postponed by council at their last meeting.
Anderson County Council has already given their approval and the call transfer is set to take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday April 23, Durham said, if it is approved by council at the special meeting Thursday.
The Council is also expected to discuss a revised contract with with ClearWater, the company operating the town’s Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP), which is expected to save the town money.
Council will also vote on funding requests for two upcoming events.