June 4, 2014 10:09:17 AM
Starkville aldermen discussed a personnel issue involving Sanitation and Environmental Services Director Emma Gandy and Calvin Ware, a sanitation worker, behind closed doors for almost 90 minutes Tuesday, but no motions specific to the matter emerged in open session.
City officials would not comment on the nature of the discussions.
The board, however, approved up to $850 in advanced travel expenses for Gandy, Cap Riley and John Landrum to attend certification training on June 11 in Jackson. The Fiscal Year 2014-2015 budget is listed as the funding source for the trip, according to city documents.
The agenda item was added after most members of the public left City Hall when aldermen concluded its regular agenda in about 30 minutes. The agenda consisted primarily of consent items, while the board did hear a report on Volunteer Starkville activities and approved its claims docket with a 5-2 vote.
City officials also confirmed that technical difficulties prevented live Internet streaming of the board meeting to Starkville's website.
In December, Gandy was briefly suspended without pay and placed on a six-month probationary period after a lengthy closed-door session. In that same meeting, aldermen accepted a grievance filed by sanitation employee William Bell and removed "any and all discipline in his employment file," according to city minutes.
The sanitation leader also came under fire in April when she proposed a $233,000 increase to the department's upcoming FY 2014-2015 budget that would require a rate hike.
Additional revenue, Gandy told aldermen then, is needed to subsidize various departmental needs from garbage bag disbursements to landfill consultation and equipment costs.
Aldermen last year approved a $1.50 sanitation rate increase to help offset rising costs after rejecting a proposed $3 hike.
Gandy caught significant flak from the board over a transition to thinner garbage bags last year. Bag disbursements were also delayed.
The three-person Starkville Audit and Budget Committee, comprised of Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn, Ward 5 Alderman Scott Maynard and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins, told Gandy the city has no interest in raising sanitation rates and the department should focus on meeting costs with last year's budget in mind.
Aldermen tasked Gandy and Chief Administrative Officer Taylor Adams with studying potential outsourcing of various sanitation services and all departmental functions as a whole, but Adams asked the board last month for an additional 90 days to find internal, cost-saving measures.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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