As promised, Rick Carmickle took notes at last week’s city council meeting, and provides coverage.
NA Confidential appreciates Rick's efforts!
Tuesday, May 24: City Clerk Marcey Wisman has confirmed that it was Valla Ann Bolovschak, not Tim Deatrick, whose public communications reference to Mayor James Garner as "Jimmy" prompted stern words from Councilwoman Bev Crump. According to Deatrick, his words were, “The Mayor is taking the citizens of New Albany to the cleaners!” I apologize for the confusion.
First, my remarks during communications from the public:
Mr. President and members of the city council, thank you for this opportunity to come before you and speak. I represent the constituents gathered downstairs on the plaza, numbering somewhere around 30 to 50.
We the people elected you; in your campaign promises you declared that you would support us! You said that you would be about the business of people, seeing to the will of your constituents. We have lost faith is some of you -- while you look after your own personal agendas, this city remains in a crisis!
You all sing the praises of Mrs. Garry while assembled in this hall; however, when not in a public setting, some you are almost guilty of slander towards her. This plan is the only plan that has been presented to you; even this council can put aside petty differences to do the job required of you. Please support this budget to start putting New Albany back on solid ground.
As you entered the building, you may have noticed nine shirts hanging on a line. No, these are not there as an advertisement for James the Cleaner! The nine shirts represent you, the members of this council. They represent that you need to work together, shoulder to shoulder, to solve this city’s crises.
Please stop telling us, “you do not have the information.” In fact, we do have the information. We know what must be done to preserve our city, and the one main thing is that you begin to serve We the People!
(Note: That is how my mind remembers most of it; I may have gotten part of it out of sequence.)
OTHER COMMUNICATION FROM THE PUBLIC:
Following my remarks, Valla Ann Bolovschak made some comments that I failed to record, in fact I was so taken a back with her attack on the mayor, I just sat there stunned for a moment!
She seemed to have a pretty good argument about expenditures. However, she was hell bent on proving that laws had been broken and that criminals were running amok because of the Garner administration. She demanded a vote to be taken, and that the Floyd County Prosecutor’s office start an official investigation into the matter. She even snared two council members (Bill Schmidt and Steve Price) into making and seconding a motion.
However, council President Mr. Jeff Gahan, with advice from the council attorney, stated that “Open Communication from the Public” was not the time or the place to take such a vote, and that the motion needed to be presented in proper form.
Mrs. Yvonne Kersey announced she might have misinformed the public during a meeting of the neighborhood associations that the mayor had withdrawn his request for the loan from the sewer board. She also stated that she had contacted a Mr. Stroud (state auditor?) and requested that he and the city council sit down and discuss the budget in detail.
Mr. Frank Lucchese spoke about how previous administrations had provided the council with false information in the past regarding the parking garage, that it has never been filled to the capacity promised. He also said that the garbage trucks purchased under the previous administration were not working out, and they were a waste of the taxpayer’s money. He blamed all of the city problems on the previous comptroller, David White, and said that due to misspending, there would be no emergency funds available. He also stated that the council was being misled by this administration.
(See above for 05/24/05 correction ... Ed.)
Mr. Tim Deatrick thanked the council for asking the tough questions. In his commentary, he remarked, “Jimmy is taking the citizens of New Albany to the cleaners!” At that point, Councilwoman Bev Crump admonished Mr. Deatrick, stating “Sir, you may not like the mayor or any of the council members, but in this assembly you will respect the position of the office!”
(Go Councilwoman Crump!)
COMMUNICATION FROM CITY OFFICIALS:
Mrs. Kay Garry stated that no money had been transferred into any of the funds now presented before the council and that the expenditures listed under those funds were place keepers to help reduce the amount of work on the comptroller’s staff, if and when the two funds were established: “The entries are there to reduce workload, should the funds not be approved it is a simple task to remove the entries and put them into the General Fund.”
Mrs. Garry also stated that Mr. Stroud supported her budget, and that state law required the rainy day fund to establish a plan before use. Also, after July 1, 2005 the city may be allowed to use EDIT funds for any lawful purpose.
(After hearing for several weeks that the council must “ approve” any expenditure over $500, Mrs. Garry pointed out that this stipulation is for only one fund, an ambulance non-reverting fund or something! Can you imagine the workload on the council if they had to approve every time a department need to buy ten toner cartridges or twenty reams of paper? They would be so busy micro managing the budget, there would be no time for anything else!)
In support of Mrs. Garry, city attorney Shane Gibson stated that on two occasions, open meetings were held to work on the budget and not one council member made an effort to attend. He stated that in this budget, salary and benefits of the city employees were not touched. It is up to the council to call a meeting with the administration to sit down and review the budget, but he assured them that every ounce of fat had been cut.
In other matters, Mayor Garner addressed the fact that the Courier-Journal scooped everyone about the 2002 audit. He explained that the state office had snail-mailed the report to the city over a week ago and as of the council meeting, the city still had not received the hard copy version.
In fact, the reporter had contacted the state office and pressured them into providing him with an e-mail copy of the report. After the article appeared in the paper, the mayor’s office contacted the state and had the same report e-mailed to them.
Mayor Garner said that there had been no misappropriations in the rainy day fund as was stated earlier during public comment, and that it was disappointing that two council members leapt at the accusations calling for an investigation. The mayor defended his comptroller, saying that she was the best this city has ever had, and was appalled at the accusations surrounding her office.
Mayor Garner stated that the Sewer Fund had 4.8 million dollars in its account at the present time, that borrowing a half a million would pose no threat to its operations, and that the city had a plan to repay the loan with proceeds from the EDIT funds after July 1.
IN OTHER COMMUNICATIONS:
Councilman Steve Price commented that back in 2004, a story appeared in the Tribune to the effect that the budget needed to be frozen, and that the city was in crisis then. He commented that history should be our teacher and that the council should not make the same mistakes again.
(I find it hard to believe that the members of the city council put so much stock into the reporting of both the Courier Journal and Tribune, and that these two forms of communications must be perfect. Around every corner, they’re always waving clippings like a flag of honor. I know that in this country we have freedom of the press, but sometimes that press gets carried away with its freedoms!)
Councilman Donnie Blevins commented that he was disgusted with the actions of the council, that politics was certainly alive and well today in these chambers. He recalled that right after his election, he was told to start working on re-election. He stated that it was apparent that members of the council were more worried about being reelected than doing the work of the citizens.
Councilman Coffey commented that four years ago a different administration came to the council with a budget that must be passed, much the same scenario as this one, and that when the council sat down and worked with the administration on a line item assessment, even more funds were found that could be cut.