The Toulon City Council attempted to address several issues that had come up since their August meeting, but to no avail due to vagueness of the agenda.One of the issues was the position of Connie Jacobson on the city council. Jacobson was sworn in and voted on in August, an improper move because she was not on the agenda.City attorney Bruce Fehrenbacher told the council that Jacobson can serve in a temporary basis but her position would not be permanent until voted on by the council.“You appoint someone, they take an oath, they’re on the council, but
not permanently until approved by the board,” said Fehrenbacher.
Mayor Rick Collins stated he wished to take a vote on Jacobson at the meeting, along with moving Debbie Wyant to Frank Galleciez’s open position instead of Vicki Hamilton’s; however, because these changes were not specified on the agenda, no action was taken except to put the matter on next month’s agenda.
The change in Wyant’s position would put her in a position with two remaining years on the term, whereas Hamilton’s position only has a couple months remaining on the term. Collins explained it would be easier for him to find someone to take the shorter spot and Wyant had agreed to the move that was within the second ward.
Wyant would also take Galleciez’s committee position, which includes police committee chairman.
Water Superintendent Shane Milroy reported the city had discovered three underground leaks in the past 30 days which were wasting almost 40,000 gallons of water per day. Stopping just those three leaks lowered the city’s daily usage to 166,000 gallons.
Milroy also reported there is a standard operation procedure in place for a power failure and when to call for a generator. The decision whether or not to call Altofer’s for a generator will be made after two hours and the system should be able to provide water for 6-8 hours without power now.
The council also discussed, but took no action, on a winter water billing program.
Three months ago the water committee met and proposed a program for those who leave for vacation spots during the winter. PDC, the garbage collection company had agreed to not charge the city for those temporaily vacant homes, but the issue of water and sewer still remained.
A program was drafted Monday morning and was first presented to the council at the meeting that set minimum amounts and turn off/turn on fees, but due to the short notice, the matter will be sent to committee to be discussed at the next meeting.
The issue of the proposed acquisition of the land at the Route 17/78 junction failed after a lengthy discussion. The matter had been tabled for two months and failed to receive a second after a motion was made by Wyant.
Also receiving no motion and therefore failing was a set of proposed cemetery rules and regulations.
In a copy of those rules obtained by The News last Friday and reported that same day, many items currently in the cemetery would no longer be allowed.
“Metal stands, boxes, easels, benches, pots and shepherd crooks are not permitted,” the proposed rules state. “Neither are glass, statuary, or decorative stones and border fencing or edging.”
The News has chosen not to cover an ongoing matter between Mayor Collins and his mother over a bench she placed in the cemetery, but it has been well documented elsewhere.
“I think the appeal of our small town cemetery is getting to place things that help you heal,” said Wyant.
The issue of cemetery rules will be sent back to committee for further discussion.
The two remaining agenda items were requested by M. Turnbull who also sought clarification on who can and how to put items on the agenda.
First, police and several items pertaining to police, including the position of the police chief and part-time officers was requested by M. Turnbull along with Don Turnbull and Debbie Wyant, but only “Police” was an item for discussion.
Continuing with the idea that the agenda needed to be specific, the council could not take action on any police matter, but Collins explained recent developments within the police department.
“The goal at this point is three officers sharing 46 hours a week,” said Collins after citing a letter from Sheriff Jimmie Dison about sheriff department layoffs.
“I responded by sending [Dison] a schedule, and hired a new police officer which was discussed at the last meeting,” said Collins.
Collins had told the council of two applicants and that one looked “pretty good” but he did not inform them he was hiring anyone at the August meeting, as video taken by The News confirmed.
“The Mayor is in charge of all employees, the council sets the policy,” said Collins. He continued by saying “no member of the police force may make comments about city or police business, except the Chief or the Mayor.”
In response to a question about how many hours Chief Doug Richards had put in, Collins responded with “the chief has not put in hours, but is advising by telephone. He wants to disentangle himself, but doesn’t mind giving advice.”
And finally the issue of the agenda which had been a topic all night was addressed by Collins stating Toulon operates on a “consent agenda,” the council all agrees to talk about items. “Items for discussion should be brought to the mayor, after which they are fine-tuned and possibly sent to committee or resolved without needing to be on the agenda,” concluded Collins.
M. Turnbull then presented her previously noted request for agenda items that was signed by three council members. Collins responded by saying “nothing is being kept off the agenda” and “the intent is to run smoothly and not haphazardly.”
Collins noted several times that The News was now recording meetings, which we have been since July, and that everyone now needed to precisely follow the Robert’s Rules of Order for the video viewers who can watch the entire meeting online.