Veto stands; West Point employees keep jobs

August 11, 2010 10:50:00 AM

Jason Browne - [email protected]


WEST POINT -- The West Point Board of Selectmen held fast to its votes Tuesday in a second attempt to fire the city administrator and electric superintendent. 


Ward 1 Selectman Rod Bobo and Ward 4 Selectman Keith McBrayer voted against motions to overturn Mayor Scott Ross'' July veto of a 3-2 vote to fire Chief Administrative Officer Randy Jones and Electric Superintendent Dwight Prisock. Ward 2 Selectman Homer Cannon, Ward 3 Selectman Charles Collins and Ward 5 Selectman Jasper Pittman, who voted to fire Jones and Prisock, needed at least four votes to overturn Ross'' veto. 


Pittman moved to overturn the veto of Jones'' firing, and Collins moved to overturn the veto of Prisock''s firing. 


In open session, Bobo joined Cannon, Collins and Pittman in questioning Jones and Prisock extensively about the municipal court''s probation system, which is outsourced to non-city employees, and the purchase of a new $17,000 truck for the Electric Department. 


Chiding Prisock for the purchase of the truck, Pittman claimed the purchase was unnecessary and ill-advised as the Electric Department projects a surplus of little more than the cost of the vehicle. 


"With the price of electric bills, this don''t look good for us. Everybody''s fussing about their bills and we''re riding around in a new truck," said Pittman. 


He also claimed the new truck sat stationary at the Electric Department for a full week at one point. 


Prisock said the truck was in use and was necessary to have enough vehicles for all employees after the city canceled its contract with a meter-reading firm and hired employees to provide the service. 


Bobo complained the board had no opportunity to approve large purchases because the purchases were already made by the time the board receives the claims docket. He pressed Prisock further asking if a used truck could have been purchased. Collins asked if a city car could serve the same purpose. 


Ross argued that department heads needed to be given "some degree of confidence" to perform their jobs. 


"We have to trust the people running the departments or make changes at the department head level," said Ross. 


Pittman responded, asking, "What do you want us to do? Just sit back and trust them?" 


McBrayer agreed with the other members of the board that more care should be exercised with purchases. 


"We''d just like to see efforts to curb spending now instead of having to react (to budget shortfalls) in December," he said. 


Regarding probation officers and fine collection policies, Ross said City Judge Mark Cliett and City Prosecutor Angela Turner made the decisions, and it "was not the board''s prerogative to collect fines and fees." 


The board took no action. 


Later, the board voted 3-2 against granting $25,000 in budgeted funds to the West Point-Clay County Animal Shelter citing concerns over language in the contract. Pittman expressed concern over one item in the contract which wasn''t clear on whether the board agreed to fund the $25,000 for just one year or multiple years. Collins asked if the citizen group which started the shelter with private money would have the capacity to catch stray animals. 


McBrayer moved the city enter into the contract pending approval of the language from board attorney Orlando Richmond. The motion was seconded by Bobo, but opposed by Pittman, Cannon and Collins. 


Ross stated that without funding the animal shelter, which is housed in the former Sara Lee Foods plant barn, would be forced to return 17 dogs back to West Point''s current animal control building. 


Bobo seconded McBrayer''s motion but agreed the board has gotten the city in trouble in the past by making "rush decisions." Ross replied that the issue was not a new one and would likely be back on the agenda next month. 


In other business, the board announced a reverse auction for city trash bags had yielded a new provider but would supply the same type of durable, black trash bags citizens have received in the past.