More detail of Tenaha City Council’s October 23 meeting
The Tenaha City Council met on Monday, October 23, 2017 for lengthy regular meeting, beginning at 5:20 p.m. Present were all the Council members – Mayor Pro Tem and Interim Mayor Natalie Harris, Durand Steadman, Craig Gray, Stephanie Glenn, and Cliff Lloyd; City employees, City Secretary Sheryl Clark, Director of Public Works Matt Barton, Municipal Judge Elizabeth Swint, and City Marshal Darren Gray.
Visitors in the audience were members of the Press, Scott Flowers of Shelby County Today and Colleen Doggett of East Texas Press; and community members, Letcia Choice, Linda Vickery, and Florence Adams.
Ms. Choice addressed the Council about the lack of sufficient lighting on her street. This will be checked out.
Agenda Item #4 considered approval for the minutes for the September 25, 2017 regular scheduled meeting. This passed with corrections made. Motion was made by Cliff Lloyd, seconded by Durand Steadman. Stephanie Glenn commented that the paper quoted her as calling monies listed on the financials as “ghost money,” saying that she never said it. Secretary Sheryl Clark invited Ms. Glenn to her office to listen to the recording, saying the comment was there, but Ms. Glenn declined. (Both members of the Press had recordings of Ms. Glenn’s remark.)
Item #5 considered approval for the September 25, 2017 Financials. Stephanie Glenn commented that she wanted to see the hours that each employee of the City of Tenaha is working. Council members spent much time examining the report, although they receive it ahead of each meeting. Cliff Lloyd moved to accept the Financials, and Durand Steadman seconded. The motion passed.
Item #6 discussed the nomination for Chief Appraiser. Council approved the nomination of Natalie Harris for Chief Appraiser for the City of Tenaha.
Item #7 – James Guest of Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson, LLP presented to the Council an example of how their firm worked to do the collections on delinquent accounts. The Council wanted more information before deciding to hire his firm, and they invited Mr. Guest to return for the November meeting.
Item #8 – The agenda stated that Kevin Hester with Simply Aquatics was to speak about an aerator for the Water Department, but he could not appear. Stacy Cranford and Matt Barton, Director of Public Works, explained that a substance named “trihalomethanes” was in Tenaha water and needed to be reduced.
# 9 – In previous meetings, Mr. Barton has explained the need for a second roll-off waste dumpster, in order to be in compliance with the state.
Council voted to use money from maturing CDs at $150,000 each to purchase both the aerator and the dumpster.
Item #10 – Council voted to approve the firm of Banks, Finley, White, and Company to conduct the FYE 2015-2016 and FYE 2016-2017 City Audits.
Item # 11 – Council passed Resolution #2017-10-23-1R, changing signatories on all City Accounts to Natalie Harris, Craig Gray, and Cliff Lloyd and removing the name of former Tenaha Mayor Carl Jernigan. City Secretary Sheryl Clark had announced previously that she would not be on the accounts from now on. When asked why by Alderman Cliff Lloyd, Mrs. Clark replied that it was not “in my best interest.” She stated that she wanted no accusations made against her, and her job description did not state that she was required to sign checks.
Item #12 - Council approved temporarily moving two maturing CDs (October 26, 2017) to a savings account at the First National Bank of Hughes Springs.
Item #13 – Council approved the purchase of another vehicle for the Water Department at $13,900.
Item #14 – The discussion on this item – to possibly revise Water Department amounts and guidelines – proved to be very lengthy (about 30 minutes), with personal anecdotes brought before the Council by Alderman Glenn. She stated her opinion that all citizens were not being treated the same. The current water deposit amount is $250. If a person has their water cut off for not paying the bill by the deadline, and their original deposit was not $250, then an additional deposit would have to be paid to bring the deposit up to the $250 amount. This would be in addition to paying the water bill. Interim Mayor Harris proposed that the Council move to develop a policy to revise the guidelines, which was approved by the Council. The revised policy will be presented for approval at a future meeting.
Item #15 – This proposal was to place all Tenaha churches on a minimum billing rate for services. The proposed rates were $28.50 without sewer and $46.50 with sewer. This triggered much discussion among individual Council members, with some being very much against it. Director Barton explained it would simplify matters, because the rates would remain the same all year, no matter how much or how little water was used. A motion to continue to study the issue carried.
Item # 16 – Council to consider future plans for cement tables from McNiel Park. Alderman Durand Steadman said that the City has a receipt for their purchase at $3,100. He stated that a receipt from the Beautification Committee showing that the City was reimbursed was necessary for the tables to be removed. Otherwise, the tables belonged to the City.
Item #17 – Consider approval for the City to fund membership applications for Council members. Alderman Cliff Lloyd had attended a meeting at which he heard a speaker promote the Texas Association of Black City Council (TABCC) members. Mr. Lloyd brought back brochures about TABBC and said that he was told that if he presented these to the City, memberships would be paid by the City. Mr. Lloyd seemed to believe that the membership fee was a one-time payment, but Ms. Harris informed him that the dues were to be paid annually. Mr. Lloyd said he felt that the City should pay for memberships, as long as “…it’s not no KKK membership and all that kind of stuff…” A motion was made and approved by the Council to disapprove the City paying for organization memberships of City Council members.
Item #18 – Consider compensation for Council members. This item was put on the agenda after the September 26, 2017 meeting when Mr. Lloyd brought the matter to the Council for the first time. He asked the Council for their thoughts, and Ms. Glenn responded that he needed to state an amount to be paid. Ms. Clark handed out a table showing area cities and what their Council members are paid.
Mr. Lloyd then moved to set the pay for Council members at $250 per month each. He stated that the pay should start receiving pay by the next election (May 2018). With no second, this motion died. Mr. Lloyd then rescinded the motion and moved that Council members be paid $100 each. This motion again did not receive a second. Mr. Lloyd then rescinded the second motion and moved to table the item until the November meeting. This motion carried.
At 7:32 p.m., the Council went into Closed Session to review Police Chief applications
Returning to Open Session at 8:10 p.m., Stephanie Glenn read an announcement that five applicants for the position of Tenaha Police Chief would interview before the Council on November 6, 2017.
The meeting adjourned at 8:22 p.m.