Whether to increase, decrease or leave the salaries of the Town of Woodbury’s mayor and aldermen as is sparked a bit of fireworks near the end of the Town of Woodbury Board of Mayor and Aldermen May meeting Tuesday (May 8).
The Board was considering adoption of the proposed 2012-13 budget on first reading; however, the budget had three additional items that needed to be considered.
The third of the three potential addendums was consideration of the salaries of the mayor and board members. The Town of Woodbury Mayor earns $3,000 per year and the aldermen receive $1,200 per year.
“I want your thoughts on this because it can only be considered every four years,” Woodbury Mayor Harold Patrick said. “The changes would take place at the beginning of the new term, Dec. 1. If we want to change those figures up or down it needs to be reflected in this budget. It has been 12 years since we’ve done anything and you may very well want to leave it as is but you can’t do anything for four years after this budget.”
When open for discussion, Alderman Charlie Harrell immediately responded that the salaries should be left as is.
City Attorney Dale Peterson joined the discussion saying, “I don’t think the mayor gets paid enough for the job he does.”
Harrell reminded Peterson of his role within the meeting.
“You are not on the Board,” Harrell said to Peterson.
“No, but I am city attorney and a citizen of the Town of Woodbury,” Peterson said.
“Citizens have not been called on to talk, and I don’t appreciate you interjecting your opinions,” Harrell said.
Patrick stopped the conversation and was prepared to take a vote when Aldermen Faye Knox suggested other Board members may not share Harrell’s opinion.
“We have really had no discussion but if the consensus of the Board is to leave it the way it is that is fine,” Patrick said.
“Only one person said anything and we may not all feel that way,” Knox said. “Is the position fairly compensated? I don’t know but let’s talk about it. (Serving on the Board) is becoming more of a job. I hope (Patrick) runs for re-election and I hope he is elected, but I think we need to attract quality people. It is not a token thing we do here. We make decisions that affect the people that live in this town and that is not an easy task sometimes.”
The Board decided to form a committee and come back with discussion at the June meeting. Knox, Lois Larimer and Dottie Duggin will serve on the committee.
The first addendum – a $2,000 contribution for the Cannon County Rescue Squad – passed unanimously, and the second item – a $25,000 fire truck for the Woodbury Fire Department – also passed unanimously.
“The rescue squad does an admirable job and they want to purchase some knew equipment,” Mayor Harold Patrick told the Board.
Knox pointed out the need for a new fire truck for the Town of Woodbury.
“I know they struggle to meet their budget and I often wonder what we would do if they were not there,” Knox said.
Adoption of the proposed 2012-13 budget, which Patrick said is virtually a carbon copy of last year’s budget with the exception of the three considered addendums, carried by a 4-1 vote with Patrick casting the no vote.
In other business, the Board discussed a proposal from Unison Site Management to purchase property at 407 Old Manchester Road where the old water tank site currently leased to AT&T is.
Unison representative Aaron Roberts informed the Board of how his company operates and the potential for increased revenue if his company were able to purchase the land.
Although there are eight years remaining on AT&T’s current lease with the Town of Woodbury ($1,200 per month), Roberts pointed out ways AT&T could basically void the contract in 30 days if technology changed or they were purchased by a different company, for example.
“With what we propose there will be nothing different,” Roberts said. “All we do is step in as you the landlord and assume all the risk for the site. Nothing changes as far as that is concerned. If technology changed or they went away, we can’t leave under this agreement.”
The Board unanimously voted to allow Patrick to continue negotiations with Unison during the next month and offer a proposal at the June meeting. As part of the ongoing negotiations, Unison has offered $129,600. Patrick is seeking $144,000 in the negotiation.
The Board also approved the permit for the Cannon County Veterans Day Parade, which will take place Nov. 10, 2012. The Board unanimously awarded the job for Water Plant Drainage Basin Improvement to J. Cumby Construction, which had a low bid of $412,000. Chris O’Dell addressed the Board concerning practice space for a new rugby team in Cannon County. The Board agreed to allow O’Dell’s team to practice at Dillon Park as long as he provides a certificate of insurance. The team will play in a Division II league in Murfreesboro.