Council OKs consulting contract with Chris Stone
by Chris Norwood
Nov 03, 2010 | 2747 views |  4 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The City Council voted 4-1 Monday night to approve a consulting contract with former Community Development Director Chris Stone. Councilman Eddie Tucker cast the dissenting vote, and Councilwoman Liz Grissett said later in the meeting that she was also opposed to the contract.

The contract was one of 12 resolutions that were covered by a single vote Monday night.

Stone will work for the city on an “as needed” basis at a rate of $75 per hour. His previous position, along with the department he headed, was abolished in the current budget. “The contract is designed to provide the city with the professional assistance needed to complete several projects, of which Stone has intimate knowledge,” according to a memo from City Manager Brian Muenger. “The contract has no set duration, however, it is not expected that these services will be (necessary) after the proposed position of city planner is filled. Under this agreement, the city has a right to terminate the contract for convenience at any time.”

Bringing in Stone’s service will require the issuance of a “task order,” which will specify the number of hours he will be expected to work, Muenger said.

During the same vote, the council approved a job description for the new office of city planner. The applicant must have “a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with major coursework in urban planning or a related field and four years of progressively responsible experience in community organization, program monitoring and evaluation or the development and delivery of community service programs. A master’s degree is desirable, (and the applicant) must have a valid Alabama driver’s license.”

The planner would be responsible for developing land use and economic goals and objectives; administering the city’s zoning laws, land development regulations and building codes; review annexation, incorporation and consolidation and economic development proposals; managing the acquisition of rights of way; and meeting with business and community representatives to determine “needs and goals for overall growth and development of plans, support activities and programs.”

The motion approving the job description also authorized Muenger to submit it to the Civil Service Board for approval, and then to advertise and hire the position.

Unlike the director of community development, who was a department head, the city planner will work directly for the city manager, and will most likely be exempt from Civil Service protection.

The document submitted Monday night did not include the salary for the new position, but the overall salary for the manager’s office (Muenger, an administrative assistant, the planner, the building inspector and code enforcement officer) is listed at $302,748.57, including fringe benefits.

Stone was hired as the city’s first community development director in January 2009. He served briefly as interim city manager before being involved in an automobile accident and subsequently being charged with driving under the influence. The charges remain pending.

Also Monday night, the council:

• Approved the minutes of two meetings from August.

• Saw Mayor Brian York present the Top Gun Employee of the Month Award to Magistrate Maria Graham in the Municipal Court Office.

• Approved leasing the Mattie Simmons Center to gymnastics instructor Tonya Ingram for $350 per month, plus utilities.

• Amended the contract with Munroe+Jenkins for administration and site inspection at the Kenwin-Waldrip building by $7,724.

• Surplussed several old air conditioners from the Spring Street Recreation Center and some other city property.

• Removed All American Poly from the contract for janitorial supplies, since it was not able to meet the terms. Brannon’s will get the contract.

• Approved changes to the city’s liability insurance resulting in a savings of $8,761 through refunds and elimination of redundancies.

• Approved a contract with Talladega College to allow its women’s softball team to practice and play home games at the city’s Sports Complex for $600 from September 2010 to May 2011.

• Authorized the demolition of condemned buildings on Naff Avenue, Moon Street, 19th Street and Jackson Street. All of the above resolutions were approved during the same vote, 4-1, with Tucker dissenting.

• Approved water and sewer invoices 4-1, with Tucker dissenting.

• Were presented with a report showing the city had managed to maintain an 8 percent fund balance, or $1.1 million, and maintained their credit rating at A level. The optimum recommended fund balance is two months operating costs, or about 17 percent. Tucker asked for information on what the city’s credit would be if the balance was reduced to four or five percent.

• Tabled an amendment to the Fat, Oils and Gas disposal ordinance.

• Received a memo comparing starting police salaries with surrounding agencies. Certified officers start at $13.83 per hour in Talladega, $15 per in Sylacauga, $13.88 in Pell City, $16 per hour in Oxford and $14.20 in Anniston.

• Approved a change to the job description of parks and recreation director (adding a residence requirement) and authorized Muenger to begin the process of finding a replacement for Parvin Neloms, who gave his notice last week. The vote was 4-1, again with Tucker dissenting.

• Heard Muenger commend the Parks and Recreation Department on the flashlight candy hunt, with more than 500 children participating.

• Heard Councilman Jimmy Davis commend the Ritz Theatre for the recent performance by Celtic Crossroad. Davis also commented on the number of-out-of-town visitors at the performance.

• Heard Councilman Donnie Miller and York complain that Alabama State Troopers (not local police or sheriff’s deputies) were rude and unhelpful to fans trying to make their way into town and thus hurting local businesses. Tucker concurred, saying, “That’s the first time I’ve ever agreed with him (Miller).” Davis replied, “I think that’s the first time you’ve ever agreed with anybody.”

• Heard York announce that the Walk of Fame induction ceremony was a success, and thanked Coca-Cola, which sponsored the event, and founder Ken Allen.