Commission member speaks out about recent controversy

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I would like to respond to the recent articles in the Henry County Local as well as the comments to the paper by Verna Stivers and Pam Bramblett.

Pam had every right to question the issues she brought before the commission. As elected officials we have been given the task of spending the taxpayer money wisely and within the confines of laws and ordinances. I may not agree with the way she presented those questions, but I do agree they needed to be asked.

I also do not agree with the salary issued to Mrs. Stivers going over the $25,000 maximum set by the commission some years ago, nor do I approve of the lack of records to back up her pay schedule. I sincerely feel she did not do any of this on purpose.

The accountability situation can be corrected with the proper tools, such as software, ledgers and some training.

She indicated there were years she did not take all her vacation, and since there didn’t seem to be an ordinance dealing with vacation, she issued checks to herself for the unpaid vacation time at the end of the year, which is completely understandable.

This sent her salary over, and should have been brought to the attention of the commission and dealt with during the last meeting of the year, which would have alleviated the current situation.

As commissioners we have not been able to see the gross wages on financial statements because of the way they are entered; this issue is currently being corrected by Mrs. Stivers and the commission voted in February to purchase payroll software for the city that will track vacation and sick time as well as provide us with the whole picture in regards to the payroll issues.

As of the March meeting the software had not been purchased. We passed ordinances to bring the city in compliance and we need to be diligent in seeing this never happens again. Mrs. Stivers is making every effort at this point to try and correct past mistakes so I cannot see punishing her further by continuing the conversation when measures have been put into place which should prevent this from happening again.

The issue of bonuses was not presented to the board at any time, and we were not allowed to vote before checks were written even though there is an ordinance which states the bonuses would be issued at the discretion of the board. I think a reasonable assumption was made and checks issued. Not the proper thing to do, but not done to defraud anyone either. I would definitely not have had a problem granting a bonus to Denny Washburn if the matter had been presented.

His dedication to the community is unquestionable.

As for the repairs to the concrete floor at the fire department building, it was my understanding at the last meeting (February) there had been a quote given and the mayor was going to obtain more quotes for the repairs and present them to us at the March meeting. Rather than do this, the fire department used their money and went ahead and had the repairs made from fire department funds which I understand was entirely appropriate.

We were also presented with a request by the fire department to help with the cost of repairs already completed on the fire truck. Some heated words were exchanged and the matter abandoned by the mayor. I had questions as to how the fire department is funded, which have now been answered to my satisfaction. Since this money has already been spent for repairs, which were necessary, there should not be a question of offsetting the repair cost to the fire department as long as funds from the city are available.

I want to thank Verna Stivers, Mayor Young, my fellow commissioners, Denny Washburn and his staff of volunteers at the fire department for all the hard work they do for the city, in many instances strictly on a volunteer basis.
I see very few people willing to step up to the plate and become involved and ask questions. Citizens voice complaints and grievances, the main one being nothing gets done after an ordinance is passed, yet never attend a meeting. Those complaints will never be addressed in public and action taken to rectify them without your presence. Please take a few minutes of your time to attend the monthly meeting and let your voice be heard.

Diane Perry