Ward C Councilwoman Bonnie Carter pleaded guilty earlier this month in federal court to charges of bank fraud and money laundering, and Alabama Code Section 36-9-2 says that when any person holding office in the state is convicted of a felony, “his office or place shall be vacated from the time of the conviction.”
Carter stole almost $1 million over several years from her former employer, SouthFirst Bank in Sylacauga. She will be sentenced in March, and will serve time in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Inge Johnson accepted Carter’s guilty plea the day after the council’s last regular meeting, so this meeting was the first opportunity for Meeks to declare the vacancy.
In declaring the vacancy, Meeks said the council seat could not be filled at the same meeting at which it was declared vacant, but it can be filled at the next regular meeting. The newly appointed council member will serve until the end of the four-year term to which Carter was re-elected last year. She was first elected in 2008.
In another matter, the council agreed to accept an agreement and release in a personnel matter with a former police officer. Meeks said the agreement is basically to pay the former officer accrued annual leave, sick leave and what would’ve been his regular salary for the weeks between his dismissal and when his appeal hearing was held.
The council approved the agreement after holding a brief executive session with the city’s attorney, Jerry Fielding.
Council members split a vote on two appointments to the city’s Waterworks, Sewer and Gas Board. Councilmen Jimmy Payne, Billy Lester and Ralph Rich voted to appoint Bloise Wright to replace Pat Wilson Jr. for a term expiring in September 2018 and Billy Atkinson Jr. to replace Ron Webster for a term expiring in January 2019.
Councilwoman Michelle Mizzell questioned if the current board members had been asked if they were interested in continuing to serve, and when she was told they had not been, she voted against the measure.
Council members also approved awarding a bid for equipment to put the city’s new fire truck in service, despite two councilmen’s abstention from the vote.
Bonaventure Fire & Safety was awarded the contract, after submitting a low bid of $29,400. Estimates prior to the bidding were that the equipment would cost about $27,000.
Councilman Billy Lester abstained because he hadn’t seen the bids; Payne abstained because the truck purchase stipulated that the truck be placed in the Childersburg Industrial Park, but there is no plan in place to build and man a fire station there.
During the meeting, the council also passed a motion to develop architectural plans and specifications for such a fire station.
Council members also:
Agreed to extend Keystone Energy’s option to purchase industrial land through Oct. 31, 2014.
Approved expenses for Tarus Twyman of the Parks and Recreation Department to receive training to get a commercial driver license with passenger endorsement.
Awarded the bid for gasoline and diesel to Allen Oil Company of Sylacuaga.
Approved monthly invoices.
Postponed the next regular council meeting from Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, to Tuesday, Jan. 14.
Contact Bill Kimber at email@example.com