Booneville’s newly sworn-in board of aldermen got off to a busy start in their first regular meeting as they considered raises for the city’s police and fire department, appointed park commission members, and discussed security upgrades for city hall.
The board voted to table discussion of raises for the two departments to allow time for a detailed review of the budget at a work session scheduled for next week but assured the employees more money is coming.
“We are all wanting to do it, we just want to do it right,” said Ward 1 Alderwoman Tara Green Lauderdale.
“We want to let you all know we’re going to get you all your money. We’re going to make sure you get your money,” said Ward 2 Alderman Jeff Williams.
Mayor Chris Lindley said the proposed increases would be covered through the end of the current budget year under the existing budget and the city could use federal COVID-related funds coming to the city in the amount of $2 million to offset the costs for the next seven years.
Lauderdale asked for clarification on how the raises would be funded beyond the seven-year period and the mayor said he anticipates growth in city revenues would cover the costs.
Lindley said the city has been working to bring all employees up to the median salary figures determined in a salary study done four years ago outlining pay rates in similar communities. Over the past four years, he said the city has increased pay to cover 30 percent of the difference between those previous salaries and the median recommended salaries. The mayor said they want to reach the salary study numbers by the end of the new four-year terms.
The mayor noted everyone is having trouble finding and retaining employees in the current economy and the city must increase pay to attract and retain employees.
Lauderdale agreed and said she was also concerned as she noted several resignations on Tuesday’s agenda.
Ward 3 Alderman Jimmy Clyde Hicks said the board needs to hold a work session as soon as possible to discuss details so they can move forward quickly. A work session was set for next Tuesday evening. The next regular meeting of the board will be July 21.
Board members also discussed potential upgrades to security at city hall and at board meetings. Williams said he and the other board members are concerned about problems seen in other communities and believe more security is needed.
The board directed the mayor to seek quotes on a walk-through metal detector for the city hall entrance as well as the possible installation of bulletproof glass along the counters where city hall workers conduct business with customers. They also asked that a police officer be stationed both inside and outside the board room during meetings.
Board members made their appointments for the park commission. Each ward has one seat on the board while alderman at large and the mayor each have two seats. Appointments for each seat were:
Ward 1: Junior Burns; Ward 2: Kevin Lindley; Ward 3: Kim Whitley Bingham; Ward 4: Valerie Williams; At-Large: Wilda Pounds and Nina Allen; mayor appointments: Katie Coln and Ellis Long.
In other business, the board:
Voted unanimously to appoint Alderman-At-Large Lavaile Shields as mayor pro-tem for the new four-year term. Mayor pro-tem acts in the absence of the mayor to conduct city business.
Accepted the resignations of Josh Walden and Josh Brumley.
Approved posting to hire a full-time maintenance employee at the park department.
Approved promoting Lt. Jerius Maxey to the position of fire inspector at the fire department and posting to fill the now-vacant lieutenant position.
Approved hiring Jessie Arnold and Charles Beene Jr. as full-time firefighters.
Approved terminating Tim Fugitt in the gas and water department for “job abandonment.”
Approved purchasing an electro fusing machine in the gas department for the low quote of $4,199 from General Utility and Pipe Supply and a trailer in the same department at the low quote of $4,995 from Murphy Bros. Tractor.
Approved promoting Aaron Canady from part-time to full-time in the police department.
Approved accepting Honeycutt Ridge and Honey Creek Road as city streets.
Approved hiring Jonathan Groves as a seasonal employee in the park department.