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Clay County Supervisors Reject Constituent Services

During their regular June 6 meeting the Clay County Board of Supervisors discussed the election commission and heard a suggestion from Jesse Ivy regarding a new county position.

Election Commissioner Wendy Fuller appeared to ask for approval of a new policy governing election commissioners’ work hours.

At the board’s last meeting, the supervisors and Fuller went into executive session to discuss work practices at the election commission.  When they emerged from behind closed doors, the board announced that they had voted not to pay Linda Ivy and Jessie Ivy for work they had done on May 19 and 23.

“We checked prior minutes dealing with a quorum when purging the rolls,” Fuller said.  “Just so we’re working within the guidelines and communicating properly, we have adopted that we will not work after business hours in the courthouse.  (Circuit Clerk Bob Harrell’s) office is locked and we can’t get to things that we sometimes need to get to.  We also decided we will work in a quorum and it will be spread across the minutes of the Clay County Election Commissioners.  We will vote and deem necessary when any commissioner may have to work outside of a quorum.  We’re asking the supervisors revisit this issue and spread it across your minutes and consider the adoption of a policy requiring a quorum be present.”

“There was an order we had in place, but this is what you’ve adopted now?” asked District 2 Supervisor Luke Lummus.

“We adopted that on May 19, and we’re asking from this day forward that that be in place,” Fuller said.

“And all the commissioners are on the same page with this?” asked District 1 Supervisor Lynn Horton.

“We had a quorum that voted for it, and that’s all we need,” Fuller said. Lummus made a motion to approve the policy, and was seconded by District 4 Supervisor Shelton Deanes.  It passed 4-0.  District 3 Supervisor RB Davis was not present at the meeting Monday.

Jesse Ivy asked that board to consider establishing an Office of Constituent Services, similar to a position recently created by the city.

Last month the West Point Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 to establish an Office of Constituent Services that would act as a clearinghouse for trouble calls and citizen complaints.  The person in this position would be responsible for fielding all calls for service from citizens and directing them to the appropriate city departments, as well as following up to make sure the calls were addressed.  The position was the brainchild of Ward 3 Selectman Charles Collins.

Ivy asked that the county consider a similar office.

“I would like to ask that the county consider joining in with the city on that,” he said.  “They created a constituent services office, which will provide a new job position in the city.  It will enable the citizens in the city to call in their problems to this position.  I’d like to see the board consider joining with the city on that.”

“What does that job consist of?” Horton asked.  “People just call in complaints?”

“Anybody in the city who wants to call in with a complaint will have their complaint addressed in an orderly fashion,” Ivy said.  “That’s my understanding of it.  I don’t know the details of it.”

“Let me address that,” said Deanes.  “I want all the constituents of District 4 to call Shelton Deanes.  This county is not in the unit system.  The city actually works in the unit system.  In the county, each district is the supervisor’s own.  I don’t believe Mr. Lummus would want anybody sitting in this office to work the complaints for him.  Then he might not get the complaint, even though this person is hired for that position.  This board is here to help create jobs, but not jobs that come out of the taxpayer’s pocket.  From what I can say, the city is creating jobs that are pulled from the taxpayer’s pocket, and I just don’t think that’s fair.”

“If the citizens in the community can’t reach you, now they have another way to get their problem addressed,” Ivy said.  “Now they have a process to go through.”

“My process is you call me,” Deanes said.  “After three and a half rings it goes to my cell phone.”

“You don’t get citizens tell you they can’t get you?” Ivy asked.

“I get that all the time,” Deanes said.  “But my deal is that if they don’t get me they can call the courthouse and somebody can take a note and get me the message.”

“I just thought it could be a joint venture in the city and county,” Ivy said.

“I agree with Shelton,” Lummus said.  “We already got that person in place, and the taxpayers are already paying for them.  It’s called the board of supervisors and (Purchase Clerk Teresa Ware).  She calls us on a daily basis numerous times.  A lot of people have our cell numbers, but if they don’t they can call the Clay County Board of Supervisors and Teresa will get the message to us.  It works real good.  Our constituents call us on a daily basis and talk to us, and that’s our job.  I’m glad we’re in the beat system where I can visit with all my constituents.  In the unit system you’ve got a road manager and such that takes care of all that, and it comes out of the pocket of the county taxpayer.  During these times, as close as they are, I know I don’t need no more burden on me as far as money.”

“The existing policy is doing fine,” Horton said. “I’m a taxpayer in the city of West Point,” said Chancery Clerk Robbie Robinson.  “I think (the constituent services position) is the silliest idea I’ve ever heard of in my life.  You gentlemen are elected representatives.  The city aldermen are elected representatives.  That’s who you need to talk to with a complaint.  That’s who I want to talk to with a complaint.  I don’t want to talk to some layer of bureaucracy sitting there sucking up my tax dollars.”

The board took no action, but criticism of the suggested position continued.  After handling a few routine matters, Deanes returned to the constituent services issue.

“I’m from the old school,” Deanes said.  “When I look at the position that the taxpayers put me in, and then I’m going to turn around and pass the buck…I just don’t feel it’s right to the taxpayers to hire someone to listen to their problems.  I want to hear it whether it’s good or bad.”

In other business, the board passed a resolution honoring former District 5 Supervisor David Winfield, who passed away over the weekend.

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1 comment

  1. Doug

    The city has a Chief Administrative Officer making $$$K annually who should be answering to constitutents and the mayor/board. Robbie is right, this is a silly idea. Why pay another salary to have someone do part of this guy’s job?

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