Town Crier News Staff
It was standing room only at the Lake City council meeting Monday evening, Jan.15, and many supporters of Diane Crews, former city recorder, gathered to hear her speak to the new council.
Mayor Bllly Anderson allowed Crews time to address the council, early in the meeting. Crews was defeated in last November's election by City Clerk Sue Gurley.
"I have come to address the allegations made about me at city hall," Crews said. "Billy (Anderson) told my brother-in-law that my books were in a mess. That is not so, as they had been closed out, balanced, and boxed up for the auditors, as is commonly done at the end of the year. I was, and am still, answerable to the auditors.
"I have also heard the software that I was using was illegal, which it is not," she said. "It was recommended and installed by the auditors. There was to be a $46,000 bill that I was not to have paid. That is wrong. We have not received money from our grant yet. All of this goes to undermine the integrity of the offices that you hold and I want it stopped."
"I'm sorry," said Mayor Anderson.
Several aldermen stated they did not know this was going on and they did not have anything to do with it.
After Mayor Anderson's apology Crews remained in the audience throughout the meeting, and was able to help answer questions pertaining to the outline of the new 2007 budget. Anderson used Crews' budget outline for the basis of the newly proposed budget.
Discussion over the budget took up the remainder of the meeting.
Mayor Anderson recommended a 25 cent across the board pay raise for all Lake City employees.
"I feel that 15 cents an hour this year is good," said Anderson.
"Does that cover the cost of living?" said alderman John Milligan.
"I'm sure it doesn't," said Anderson, "but it is in line with what other small cities around us are doing. We just can't go on and on like this. We may have to put a ceiling on the amounts at some time. Our budget is $40,000 less than it was last year. I used Diane's (Crews) figures from her proposed budget, except for raises and extra housing for people picked up by police."
"The budget does not run the same from year to year," Crews said.
"I had enough confidence in the budget that Diane had proposed to go with it," Mayor Anderson said. "I put in taxes and police car."
Alderman Milligan inquired about former Jerry Bowman's retirement and was told it was included in the General Fund.
"What about money for the museum?" said Milligan. "Shouldn't we have something designated for the museum?"
"That is not necessary," said Mayor Anderson. "We can take care of that out of the General Fund."
Milligan located many instances when payroll or income showed increases but taxes went down. Milligan expressed his appreciation for Crews staying to help them with budget questions.
"I don't wish the city any ill will," Crews said.
"I don't think the Fire Department can exist on the cut from this budget," said alderman Debbie Davis. "Our department took the biggest cut, from $24,430 last year to $16,280 in the new budget."
After numerous inquiries about budget by councilmen, they moved to table the proposed budget until more information could be obtained.
The council approved the proposal from alderman Milligan that the next meeting held to discuss the budget be free, and the council would not charge $100 a person to meet.
"I want to apologize for anything being said against Diane (Crews) and to thank her for all the years she has served the city," Alderman Davis said.
"We all have to work together," said Alderman Kenneth Winford. "Some good things have happened to our city, and some more need to keep happening."
Other items of discussion included:
*Paul Taylor asked the council why the city was hauling city stuff (landfill) onto private property.
"The stuff came off streets when they had been graded," Mayor Anderson said. "It was put in several places."
"I don't like my tax dollars spent on private property," Taylor said.
Several visitors recalled it had been hauled off before in such a manor, and that was nothing unusual.
*Larry Ladd, with USDA Services, requested the city select someone to have authorization to sign for USDA-FSA documents, when needed, as the city had a farm and was in the USDA program.
Mayor Anderson was designated as the person to sign documents.
"We want to do this right and not to show any favoritism," said Anderson.