DIAMOND CITY — The Diamond City City Council voted Tuesday night to appoint a new treasurer and elect a council member to fill vacant slots.
Council members Charles Grimes, Cristy Olcott and Greg Wilson were present, while Don Bennett and Cheryl Guthrie were absent. Mayor Linda Miracle was also absent and recorder Tina Jackson oversaw the meeting. Sharlene Hudson filled in for Jackson as recorder.
Stacy Fisher and Victoria French were the two candidates to replace former Alderman Rick Van Dyke, who resigned earlier this year.
Both candidates spoke to the council and crowd, but aldermen present voted unanimously to elect French. Jackson administered the oath of office and French took her seat at the council table.
Stephanie Martin and Keshia Bell were the only two candidates for treasurer to replace interim treasurer Jane Henderson, who resigned earlier this year.
Meeting minutes show Olcott had moved to appoint Bell as interim treasurer at the April 23 meeting, but that motion failed. At the same meeting, the council voted to hire Martin as sewer improvement district clerk.
Both women addressed the council and public. Martin touted her business degree and experience, including working with the city for three months and the CPA firm hired to keep the city’s books. Bell said she has been disappointed with the way city finances were handled, saying she knew details of her own finances and the city should know its details. Bell also said that when she was first approached with the position, she originally said she would do the job for free.
In discussion, Hudson said the treasurer position is basically a name-only position because the CPA firm is handling finances. Olcott agreed that the position will largely be dealing with the public and the city needs an unbiased person.
Hudson asked Martin how much she would require for salary. She said the mayor had offered her an additional $1 per hour on top of her $11-per-hour as SID clerk to do both jobs.
The council unanimously voted to appoint Bell as treasurer. Jackson administered the oath of office as aldermen began considering an ordinance regarding the treasurer’s salary.
At the council’s May 9 meeting, minutes indicate, city attorney Steven Grady suggested the treasurer’s salary, set by ordinance at $16,900 annually, be reduced to $0 a year with the CPA firm taking care of finances.
The council on Tuesday was presented with an ordinance to reduce the treasurer’s salary. The ordinance stated that the treasurer may request a decrease in salary, although the salary would revert to the ordained amount when that official’s term expires and a successor takes over.
Olcott gave Bell the form on which she would request the amount of reduction in salary while Hudson began reading the ordinance. Olcott said that with Bell’s offer to work for free, the reduction must be done by ordinance. Bell left the room to complete the form.
When Hudson got to the portion of the ordinance that set the salary amount, she asked what the amount should be, Jackson and the council said zero per Bell’s earlier statement.
As Hudson finished reading the ordinance the first time, Bell returned with the completed form, which requested salary of $14,800 a year.
Olcott said that because Bell had been sworn in, the ordinance would have to be read again and the salary would stand if the council approved.
The ordinance was then read again with the corrected salary amount inserted. Olcott moved to waive the second and third readings of the ordinance and the council approved.
Someone in the crowd asked if that meant the city would be paying a treasurer and the CPA firm.
“Instead of paying me a dollar?” Martin asked.
The answer was affirmative.
On a motion to adopt the ordinance, Grimes originally cast the sole “no” vote,” but he changed that vote after he was informed Bell would be paid $16,900 if the ordinance wasn’t passed.
Olcott asked that the meeting agenda be amended to include an executive session for consideration of employee discipline. The council approved and moved into the private session at 7:45 p.m.
About 25 minutes later, French approached the crowd outside waiting for the public meeting to resume asking if Martin was still present. They told French that Martin had already left.
A few minutes later, the council returned to open session. Olcott explained that no action was taken because the employee being discussed, who wasn’t named in open session, wasn’t present and couldn’t be interviewed.
However, Olcott did ask that the agenda for the July 23 meeting include an executive session so that employee could be present.
The council took several other actions Tuesday night. In the Friday edition, we examine some of those items, including overriding Miracle’s veto of two ordinances and a resolution.