Questions surface over paving funds

Published 7:25 pm Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Nothing is smoothed over when the aldermen discuss paving, asarguments arose yet again over the subject matter during Tuesday’scity board meeting.

In a previous board meeting, in a majority vote, the councildecided to split the paving budget of $500,000 six ways – cuttingMayor Les Bumgarner and Alderman at Large Karen Sullivan out of thepaving picture. However, the mayor vetoed the decision, thusreverting the split to eight ways.

Before the board decided to advertise for bids for paving duringTuesday’s meeting, questions surfaced regarding the budget onceagain.

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“We do not have a plan for paving at this point,” said Ward FiveAlderman D.W. Maxwell. “But you guys (other officials) seem to beproceeding like there is a plan.”

Maxwell requested the details as to where Bumgarner and Sullivan’spaving money is going to be spent.

“I understand that you and Karen have committed most of your moneyor all of it and I know that not one penny, as far as I know, isdesignated to Ward Five nor is any of it designated for TerryBates’ ward,” said Maxwell to the mayor. “So, I want to know whereit’s going, what it’s for; I want some details. And I’m not sayingI’m opposed to it, but it needs to be laid out on the table wherewe all know what’s going on.”

Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes asked Maxwell if he asked formoney.

“Why should I have to ask,” responded Maxwell.

As Maxwell continued to press for details, Ward Six Aldermen DavidPhillips mentioned he was receiving some money from Sullivan topave part of North Jackson Street. Estes said Sullivan was givingher some money to pave a portion of Oak Hill and the mayor wasassisting her with a part of South Church Street.

Questions then arose about when the board began splitting the moneysix or eight ways.

Bates maintained the only fair division of funding was among thesix wards.

“It’s the wards’ money. If we have $500,000 to split six ways andif I had $200,000 left, I could split it with you guys – with therest of the wards,” said Bates.

Again, Maxwell pressed for issues about where the two citywideofficials’ money is being spent.

“I’m going to allocate mine in the city,” said Bumgarner.

“So you don’t want to tell us, you don’t want to tell the boardwhere the money is going to be allocated, and you expect for us tovote and approve it,” Maxwell responded. “That’s sorry, that’sabsolutely sorry.”

As the board continued to argue over what is fair, how the moneyshould be allocated and the details over the project, Phillipssuggested they have a work session to continue the paving talk andmove forward with the current split of eight ways.

“We’re just beating this horse to death tonight,” saidPhillips.

City Attorney Joe Fernald said the money can be designated forpaving as need be, but where the money is being spent needs to beknown.

“You have to disclose where the money is being spent, you cannotvote on it blind,” said Fernald.

The motion of splitting the money eight ways and fully disclosingwhere the money is going passed with three in favor, Sullivan,Estes and Phillips; two against, Bates and Maxwell. Ward OneAlderman Dorsey Cameron did not vote and Ward Three Alderman MaryWilson was absent due to illness.

When aldermen began talking about a work session, Cameron said hewould not attend any such meeting.

“We don’t need a work session, we just need some common sense,”said Cameron.

In the end, the board also approved to advertise for paving bids ona vote of 4-2, with Bates and Maxwell against.

In other business, Brookhaven Police Department Assistant ChiefNolan Jones has retired, effective May 31, after 26 years ofservice on the force. A retirement reception will be held in hishonor on June 16 at 5:30 p.m. at the police department.

“I would like for all of you to come out and say farewell to him,”BPD Chief Pap Henderson said to the aldermen.

Capt. Bobby Bell, with more than 30 years of experience, has beenpromoted to assistant chief.

Brookhaven Fire Chief Tony Weeks and Bumgarner will be heading toNew Jersey Monday to inspect the city’s new $334,000 mobile firetrainer.

“In the agreement, they want us to come up and inspect it and makesure everything is right before they go through all the trouble ofshipping it down here,” said Bumgarner.

The fire trainer is being funded through an Assistance toFirefighters Grant and is expected to roll into town at the end ofthe month.