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City Council Meeting: Municipal League Ok’s Scale for Mayor

Annexation and Some “Non-Answers”

Annexation Facts Presented

The Greenwood City Council, with Vice Mayor Pro Temp Jimmy Gossett presiding and two Councilmen absent (Johnson and Tim Terry)heard the report of the annexation committee recommending going forward with the annexation of several areas to the north and west of the city. That would include the Shadow Lake area and property surrounding that development. It would also include property along Highway 71 from Jenny Lind south to Mt. Zion Road on both sides of the Boys and Girls Club. The findings of the committee were presented to the Council by Committee Chairman Robert McKinney along with data studied in making the determination including tax revenues and the costs of services extended into the areas. The committee was commended for the dispassionate way in which it looked at facts only and disregarded the personal feelings voiced for and against the annexation.

Mayor’s Pay Scale Assures Education and Training Compensated

An ordinance passed the first of three readings to institute a pay range for potential mayors beginning January 1, 2015.

The Greenwood Tradition interviewed Don Zimmerman, Director of the Arkansas Municipal League. He pointed out that Amendment 56 of the Arkansas Constitution gives the governing body the authority to set pay scales of a city’s elected officials.

At one end of the scale is compensation of $16,000.00 per year for a mayor with no education and no experience in public administration. At the other end of the scale is compensation of $48,000.00 per year for a mayor with at least four years of experience in public administration and at least two college degrees-one of which being Doctoral. The City Attorney was quoted as saying he had no problem with the ordinance which passed unanimously. With passage of the ordinance, a potential candidate would know before being elected what the job would pay them. The public and the Council would know that training, experience and competence would be rewarded and that credentials would be shown to justify compensation. The Ordinance clearly defines “public administration experience” as having served at least four years as a mayor, city administrator or city manager. The public will know what it is getting for its money and tax dollars are not being spent on payment to the less qualified.

No Answer to Simple Questions. City Clerk and City Treasurer…Divide the Duties?

Last week at City Hall, an employee was moved from the Finance Department to the Water Office. The Water Office employee was moved to the Finance Department. Neither job was advertised as an “opening.” The Finance employee earned more money than the Water Office job pays. A Resolution was presented to increase the Water Office budget so as to pay the employee what they had been making in Finance. City Councilman A.C. Brown asked if there was a reduction somewhere else so that the measure would result in being “budget neutral” and asked “with this increase is there going to be a decrease somewhere else?” No answer. He asked again two different ways. “Is the employee going to the Finance Office getting a raise?” No answer…just grins, giggles and rolls of the eyes by City Clerk Sharla Spoon Derry who, in Greenwood, is also the City Treasurer even though the Finance Director who answers to the Mayor handles the finances, not to the elected City Treasurer. Finally, Councilman Lance Terry forced the issue and required the Finance Director to give a straight answer that the new employee in Finance would be getting a higher salary too.

People in the audience began to notice that the questions were not being answered. The crowd got into the act. Laughter at the “shell game” being played on the City Council by the City Clerk Sharla Spoon Derry and Finance Director resulted in some heckling and name calling. It was obvious that the new employee starting in the Finance Department would be getting a raise in pay since that higher salary was already in the budget.

No one argued that paying the new Finance employee a higher salary wasn’t an administrative function. It is and it does not need Council approval. But the questions that would not be answered resulted in an embarrassing evening for everybody. The City Clerk’s and the Finance Director’s behavior were described by some as “a shabby shell game” and by others as “unprofessional.”

Split the Job Duties. More Help Wanted

The City is now advertising for a part-time addition to the Finance Department. If that department needs more employees, many are asking just why is it that the Clerk/Treasurer does not handle some of the finance work since she’s being paid for Clerk and Treasurer thanks to a merger some years back. The behavior Monday night resulted in renewed determination to split the job duties of the City Clerk and the City Treasurer into two different jobs, both elected and reporting to the public. After the meeting, Councilmen agreed that paying a City Treasurer what they are worth to keep all this from happening would be money well spent and then pay the City Clerk what a typist makes for preparing the minutes and filing documents. As it is, the City Clerk makes nearly as much as the Mayor and has little or no role in the finances. The well-paid Finance Director does not report to the City Clerk/Treasurer who is elected to guard the City’s finances. Now that Finance Director needs more help while the new employee just moved there is getting a new salary and starting at the top of the pay scale. It is becoming more apparent to Councilmen that this must be addressed before the next election.

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