District 2 Supervisor Bill Brigham Attends His First Meeting as Board Member
Little changed at the Lowndes County Courthouse Tuesday during the first board meeting of the 2012. During the first board meeting after an election year, the new board must assemble and elect the president, vice president, and make appointments of board attorney, road manager, county administrator and county engineer.
For a brief few minutes at the beginning of the meeting, Lowndes County Chancery Clerk Lisa Neese sat in the chair normally occupied by District 1 Supervisor Harry Sanders.
Neese presides over the first meeting of a new board until they elect a president. Newly elected Sheriff Mike Arledge called the meeting to order and turned it over to Neese. Neese asked First Baptist Church Pastor Shawn Parker to give the Invocation and he did so. The first business of the board was to adopt Roberts Rules of Order as rules governing the board meetings (District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks clarified this. RW).
Neese asked for nominations for board president. District 3 Supervisor John Holliman made a motion to make Harry Sanders president. District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith spoke up and made a substitute motion to make Leroy Brooks president. Neese asked if there was discussion. That’s when board attorney Tim Hudson stepped in.
“Hold on…you made a motion to appoint Sanders (talking to Holliman), but there was no second. If there had been a second, then Jeff can make a substitute motion…but with no second, the motion dies…so, John made a motion…is there a second?” District 2 Supervisor Bill Brigham spoke up, “I’ll second it.”
Smith then repeated his substitute motion to appoint Brooks president. Neese asked if there was a second to Smith’s motion. “I’ll second it for discussion” said Brooks. “Let me say this….I appreciate Jeff nominating me. But I’m gonna withdraw my name, because I don’t want a split vote like that. It’s obvious the vote is not gonna be there. I appreciate that. Thank you very much, Jeff…but I’m gonna withdraw.”
Smith says, “Well, I’m gonna make a motion to rescind my motion, then.”
Neese turned to Hudson for help. “Well, Jeff is withdrawing his motion…so you go back to the original motion” (of the nomination of Sanders for president by Holliman). “Ok…all in favor?” asked Neese. Sanders, Holliman, Brigham and Smith raised their hands in approval. Brooks voted no. Sanders was made board president by a 4-1 vote. Sanders and Neese then swapped seats as Neese’s short reign was finished (probably much to her delight. RW).
As Sanders took the presidents chair, he stated that the next order of business was for the board to elect a vice-president, so he nominated Holliman for the position. Brigham gave a second. Sanders asked for discussion. After he received no reply, he asked for the vote. Holliman was voted vice-president 4-1, again with Brooks voting no.
Board President Sanders went on to ask the board to adopt the agenda. His change to the agenda was to appoint an assistant road manager as well as the road manager itself. The board approved the amended agenda.
Appointing the county attorney was next on the agenda. Sanders explained that he had spoken with Tim Hudson and the best way to appoint Hudson as county attorney, again, would be to hire the law firm in which he works for, Sims & Sims. Hudson has more than enough time in for retirement, so the county could hire the firm, saving thousands of dollars by not having to pay retirement benefits or insurance to Hudson as a county employee.
John Holliman made a motion to hire Sims & Sims. Brooks gave a second. The vote was unanimous.
Leroy Brooks made a motion to hire Ralph Billingsley as county administrator. Jeff Smith gave a second. Sanders wanted to add to the motion that they hire Billingsley at the same salary as he has right now ($120,000 annually). Brooks said, “I thought that was a given” (to laughter). Sanders said that it had to be stated for the minutes. Brooks said, “Yeah, I know..” The vote was unanimous.
Sanders then said, “Next is the road manager.” Brooks said, “So moved…at the same salary.” (he was speaking of current Road manager Ronnie Burns). When there was no second to Brooks’ motion, Holliman made a motion to hire Ronnie Burns as road manager and increase his salary to $72,000. Brooks spoke up, “What is his salary now?” Sanders answered that it was currently $67,500. Jeff Smith then seconded Holliman’s motion. Sanders asked for discussion.
“Yeah, I’m gonna make some discussion. I have absolutely no problem with hiring Ronnie…he does an excellent job. But as I stated during the regular budget time, is that I don’t think we need to start off giving raises to employees when we don’t understand what the economic forecast is gonna be. I think if we’re gonna give him a salary increase, let’s wait till the budget time so…I’m not gonna vote for it. But it’s no reflection on Ronnie Burns. I can set here and say after 28 years on this board, we’ve never had a road manager as good as Ronnie Burns, but at the same time, there should be parody in the way we do raises and I’m not voting against Ronnie, I’m voting against the raise.”
Sanders said he agreed with Brooks that Burns was the best road manager that Lowndes County has ever had. But he reminded him that the county had just saved $13,000 after it rehired Tim Hudson with savings. He also touted what all Burns does in addition to his overseeing 53 county road employees. Burns was rehired after a 4-1 vote, Brooks opposed.
Sanders then made a motion to hire Tommy Kidd as assistant road manager and give him a raise ($4500 annually) of the same amount as the road manager. The vote was 4-1, again Brooks opposed.
A motion was then made to rehire Bob Calvert (his firm of Calvert/Spradlin) as county engineer. The motion passed unanimously. Calvert was also hired as the county state aid road engineer. He had previously served in both capacities.
County Administrator Ralph Billingsley announced two board openings coming up. He said that two positions were on the Lowndes County Industrial Development Authority Board. District 1 appointee Carl Williams and District 3 appointee Chris Herring’s appointments to the board expire on January 14th, he said. Billingsley opened the application process and said the board can make the appointments at their January 31st meeting.
Billingsley went ahead and announced an opening coming up on the CVB board as well. Bart Wise’s appointment representing businees & industry, will expire on February 2nd.
The next board meeting will be Friday, January 13th at 9 a.m. inside the boardroom at the Lowndes County Courthouse