Council split on Airport Board ordinance
by Emily Adams
Sep 19, 2012 | 2886 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SYLACAUGA – Two councilmen voted in favor and two abstained from a vote to repeal an ordinance that provides additional powers to the Airport Board at a City Council meeting Tuesday night.

Because there was no majority, City Clerk Patricia Carden said the city will consult the Alabama League of Municipalities to clarify whether the item passed.

Councilmen Walter Jacobson and Ken Horn voted to adopt the motion, while Manuell Smith and Doug Murphree abstained. There is currently no fifth seat on the council.

The ordinance in question was approved in 2007 and gives the Airport Board more responsibilities, including the power to oversee projects at Lee Merkel Field. The ordinance presented Tuesday, which has come before the council numerous times in the last year, would repeal the initial ordinance, taking away those additional duties and essentially returning the board to an advisory role.

Mayor Jim Heigl said this issue has resurfaced because of some concerns presented to the council about the Airport Board’s potential affect on the city’s audit.

“Where the board lacks is in giving the city the paperwork from the projects they oversee in a timely manner,” Heigl said. “We need clarification as to who signs off on a project, who says it is complete and who gets the paperwork to the city. What the original ordinance did was give the board authority, but no responsibility.”

At a council work session Monday, Jacobson said he remains in favor of rescinding the board’s additional powers.

“About a year ago, we talked to (Airport Board chairman Tommy Dobson) about setting up a series of meetings to go over long-range plans so we would have idea of what the airport is contributing and what it isn’t, and none of those meetings have happened,” he said.

Murphree said he abstained from voting because the decision needs more work.

“There needs to be something else put in place to say who is going to take over the responsibilities that the board would no longer have if we are going to do that,” Murphree said.

Smith and Horn said they want to leave the issue up to the next council that takes office Nov. 5.

Also at the meeting, Heigl announced that he has prepared and presented the council with a budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, and it will be voted on at the next meeting Oct. 3. Smith and Horn previously said they wanted to delay budgeting until the next council takes over; however, Smith said they now plan to pass it.

In other business, the council:

• Heard from citizen Mike Landers, who said he intends on pursuing litigation against the city to ask for an audit because of his ongoing concerns about the Airport Board.

• Failed to pass a motion to accept a bid for an FAA Airport Improvement Project for lack of a second

• Set a public hearing for Oct. 22 at 9 a.m. regarding the demolition of 50 nuisance properties.

• Authorized an amendment to the grant agreement with East Alabama Regional Planning and Development commission to increase the local match from $2,157 to $1,658 for services for the elderly programs.

• Authorized $21,975.90 to purchase and install an electronic sign at City Hall. Murphree voted against the motion.

• Approved an amendment to the Fire Department budget to allow for the purchase of an administrative vehicle. The amendment does not affect the budget total.

• Approved expenses for Lt. Adam Gardner, Lt. Kelly McNeill, Lt. Rondell Muse and Lt. Jason McNeill to attend First Responder Safety Training in Birmingham Oct. 10, and for Lt. Jon Williams, Lt. Don Blair, Lt. Mike Gorman and Lt. Kelly Johnson to attend the same training Oct. 11. Registration fee is $50 each.

• Approved expenses for police officer Benjamin Layton to attend the Law Enforcement Academy in Jacksonville from Sept. 10 to Nov. 29. The $1,200 fee is refundable upon the officer’s graduation.

• Approved expenses for the newly elected Mayor, City Council and City Clerk to attend the Orientation Conference for Elected Officials and Municipal Personnel in Birmingham Nov. 14. The registration fee is $125 per official.

• Approved accounts payable and checks and transfers for August.

• Approved August payroll in the amount of $498,869.27.

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