Council debates empty positions

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 7, 2003

Three open positions at city hall continue to weigh on the City Council.

At Thursday’s work session Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw said that the administrative committee had a constructive meeting on Monday. Her recommendation was to take the top three names council members chose for the positions of city clerk, treasurer and finance director and set up interviews.

On Monday administrative committee members met and tallied the council’s choices for the three positions.

Email newsletter signup

Crenshaw noted that background checks would need to begin on those being interviewed.

Councilwoman Rita Sims Franklin said that all applicants had signed waivers allowing background checks.

President George Evans said the council would take the next step to move the process along at Monday’s regular meeting.

Franklin then brought up an ordinance that required people in the positions to live within city limits.

The ordinance has been in effect for some time, but hasn’t been enforced.

The council then veered onto other subjects, but moved back to the subject of the open positions before adjourning for the evening.

Councilwoman Nancy Sewell said that she didn’t want to be close-minded, but hoped that one person could fill two positions.

She added that the city of Bessemer has a population of 35,000 and didn’t have a finance director.

Crenshaw, however, said that former city clerk Jackie Smith said that she had a lot to do, and didn’t want anyone to be overwhelmed.

Smith filled both the city clerk and interim finance director positions.

Councilwoman Jean Martin read from a letter written by city auditors Borland Benefield that stated a void existed in the city as long as the three positions remained vacant.

Evans, though, said that he didn’t think the city needed all three positions.

Crenshaw said that the council should deal with finance issues as if it was the most important thing they could do.

In other matters the council:

People can pay their garbage collection fee for 11 months at one time and receive the last month free, she said.

Sewell said that she thought notice of the option should be placed in the newspaper.

City Attorney Jimmy Nunn said that the city could repair the building and then put a lien on the property. If the owners didn’t pay the lien then the city could sell the property, according to state law.

Crenshaw said that she wanted a diverse group of people to join a committee to talk about the issue.

Sewell said that the accord was originally put together through citizen input.

Franklin said that a public hearing should be held instead of a committee.