Local Government Roll call: Hanceville council debates meeting attendance | CullmanSense

Local Government

Roll call: Hanceville council debates meeting attendance

A great deal of Hanceville’s Thursday night meeting was spent discussing attendance. / Heather Mann

HANCEVILLE - Raise your hand when your name is called. A hot topic of discussion at the Hanceville City Council’s meeting Thursday evening was city ordinance no. 577. Specifically, the section that outlines punishments for council member who miss meetings.

As the ordinance currently reads, after missing a certain number of meetings, the offending council member’s salary would be reduced for the rest of the year, even if he or she didn't miss any more meetings. The ordinance was put in place to prevent elected officials from collecting full paychecks without doing anything to earn them, but many of the members at Thursday’s meeting shared the sentiment that it was unfair to punish officials in the case of circumstances beyond their control (illness, family issues, becoming a caregiver, etc.).

Council members took turns talking about situations beyond their control that challenged their ability to show up at meetings. One member had to choose between a meeting and being with her mother at the hospital, another missed a graduation. Councilwoman Kim Brown, the member who brought up the issue with the ordinance, had her salary docked after illness and family trauma caused her to miss a few meetings even though she never missed another meeting for the rest of the year.

Mayor Kenneth Nail agreed that missing meetings didn't necessarily mean council members weren't doing their jobs, saying, "There's more to city council than just showing up at meetings twice a month." Additionally, he said that the ordinance should outline exactly what salary the mayor will earn to help mayoral candidates figure out if they would be able to afford to take on the job.

After much deliberation, the council agreed that making changes to the ordinance would greatly benefit the new administration after the next council elections. The council took no official action; however, City Clerk Tania Wilcox to get with the city attorney and begin working on a revised ordinance.

Any new ordinance having to do with council members’ pay by law cannot take effect within the same term of the officials who adopt said ordinance. That means that if a revised ordinance is drafted and adopted by the current Hanceville City Council, it will not go into effect until 2020.

Other news

The meeting opened with public comments from Barbara Bailey from the Hanceville Senior Center. Bailey thanked the City for all the support its given, and she also mentioned a project the seniors would be doing in the future involving making sleeping mats for the homeless.

Executive Director of the Good Samaritan Health Clinic, Jolanda Hutson, has been visiting all Cullman municipalities in an effort to secure more funding for the clinic. She presented a short video of some of the patients, who shared their stories as a way to demonstrate the clinic's impact on the community, then went through a brief overview of the clinic’s finances. Good Samaritan recently faced a sharp decline in funding from two previous grants, and despite receiving two new grants as replacements, it is still facing a deficit in funding.

Under new business, the council paid its invoice from Barlow Specialty Pools, which led to a plan to keep the city pool open a little longer (up to Labor Day possibly) to help bring in as much revenue as possible. They also purchased the cigarette stamps necessary to collect cigarette taxes, then passed a resolution that would spend around $4,000 to give retirees a one-time bonus ranging between $300-$600.

The council moved to surplus a Gooseneck trailer on GovDeals.com in favor of buying a larger one, then Nail re-appointed Cathy Bradford to the housing authority. The agenda indicated that Nail needed to appoint someone to the planning commission board, but he simply asked for suggestions and said that a decision didn't need to be made immediately.

The police report outlined the Hanceville Police Department’s June activity, which included five felonies, 19 misdemeanors and 120 traffic citations. The fire department report stated that the eight fire departments (Hanceville included) who helped fight the fire at J.B. Pennington High School earlier this year would be receiving payment for their services soon.

While on the subject of the fire department, Nail took a moment to recognize its accomplishments, bringing up a kind and thankful letter for the HFD's calm and professional manner in attempting to aid a little girl who got her hand stuck on the back of a car. Councilwoman Sharon Porter also shared her thanks for the department's quick and calm handling of an incident at her church.

Nail shared that he feels city employees don't earn as much as they should, especially the firefighters. Saying he feels like the city’s fire department was probably the lowest-paid in the state, Nail resolved to work on increasing wages for city employees.

The council also announced that there will be a Kids' Night Out in the park on August 4 from 6-8 p.m. There will be pizza and cotton candy, and the city is in need of more volunteers for the event.

The Hanceville City Council meets on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month at 7 p.m. at Hanceville City Hall. The public is welcome to attend.

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