Council members approved hiring Fire Chief Patrick Draper as city manager. Draper will run the day-to-day operations of the city. He was hired by the same mayor and council that hired him as fire chief in 2010.
“My only concern, I would rather not lose you as the fire chief,” said Donnie Todd, who was the lone council member to vote against appointing Draper city manager. “… I want you to be the fire chief.”
Draper has served as chief of the Fire Department since Oct. 1, 2010.
“I have no problem (with this),” Councilwoman Dot Wood said. “I’m kind of excited. We’re finally getting a city manager.”
Draper has a master’s degree in public administration from Jacksonville State University. He earned his bachelor of social sciences degree from the University of Alabama.
Councilman James McGowan said the council has talked about hiring a city manager for seven months.
“This is a starting point,” he said. “I think you will take our city in a new direction, but the right direction.”
Councilman Greg Gossett also said he supported the appointment of Draper to the city manager position.
“I think this is a good move,” he said. “I’m 100 percent behind him. … I think he will make a good city manager.”
Before coming to Pell City, Draper worked as director of training programs for the Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa.
Draper said he was humbled and honored that the mayor and council supported him as the city’s first city manager.
“I’m ready to jump in and evaluate everything,” he said, adding that he is going to move the city in a positive direction, like he has done for the Fire Department.
Draper said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Burdett will take the reins of the Fire Department, even though he will oversee the department as city manager.
Also at Monday night’s meeting, the council approved hiring Penny Isbell as city clerk.
Todd also voted against appointing Isbell. He questioned the change in the city clerk job description since the city is establishing a new CFO position. He also questioned whether the vacant position was advertised or posted as such when the city sought to fill the city clerk position.
Isbell garnered the support of the rest of the council and mayor.
“I have every confidence she can do the job,” Wood said.
Isbell was serving as acting city clerk while performing her regular assistant city clerk duties. She has served as acting city clerk on three different occasions.
Isbell has worked as assistant city clerk/accounts payable clerk since 1995.
Mayor Bill Hereford said the city will not fill the assistant city clerk position, but the council is expected to establish a chief financial officer position that will be filled by a certified public accountant.
In other matters Monday night, the council:
• Approved a 30-day extension for Joe Wheeler to fix a building the city condemned.
• Approved applying for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to assist firefighters. The city’s match to the $350,000 grant, if approved, is 5 percent of the grant total or $17,500. The grant would pay for a new pumper truck.
• Appointed Ray Miller, Bala Baptiste, Dennis Brooks and Matthew Pope to the Commercial Development Authority Board.
• Approved an ordinance regarding election qualifying fees. There is a $50 fee for all mayor and council candidates seeking office.
• Approved waiving water bills for 14 customers who are still dealing with discolored water.
Contact David Atchison at firstname.lastname@example.org.