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Cumby City Council Lifts Mask Requirement, To Finish Installing Waterline On Black Jack Road

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City Employees To Be Reimbursed For Some Time Used During Winter Storm, Elected Officials Salaries To Be Reduced

Cumby City Council worked through the regular portion of this week’s meeting agenda in just under 45 minutes, then spent a little over 20 minutes discussing a water line on Black Jack Road. The City mask requirement, police department Facebook page, reduction of elected officials salaries, establishing a separate fund for sanitation services, reimbursement of some time employees used during the winter storm, reappointment of a city attorney and moving of a water line were all considered at the March 11 meeting.

City of Cumby Municipal Building

Staffing Appointments

Cumby Mayor Doug Simmerman announced that the city has selected a new secretary, as Codi Reynold’s resignation from the position was officially accepted on Jan. 28. The new secretary will begin her duties starting next Wednesday.

“We think she’s going to be a good fit and are excited to get her here,” Simmerman said.

Mayor pro Tem Sheryl Lackey has been serving as interim secretary expressed appreciation to utilities clerk Kelsey Thomas who has been “a tremendous help,” along with the Municipal Court Clerks Rita Graham and Alexis Pryor, and Judge Lana Adams

The Cumby City Council on Dec. 8 terminated Jay Garrett’s service to the city as attorney. During a special meeting on Dec. 15, Leigh Thompson was appointed Cumby City Attorney for a 90-day probationary period. That probationary period is ending. The City Council Thursday night appointed Thompson officially as City Attorney. Thompson, at the Dec. 15 meeting, noted she had worked for Garrett’s office before, handling prosecutorial aspects of the job, and has worked well with Judge Lana Adams before.

“I think Leigh has done an outstanding job, doing her due diligence and research. I think she has the city’s best interests at heart. I think she’d doing an outstanding job,” Simmerman said Thursday.

Chief Jeff Hundley also introduced a new officer to Cumby.

Pay Matters

Alderman Amber Hardy asked the council to consider reimbursing employees for comp time or vacation time used to make up for days they were out due the week of the winter storm. She suggested rewarding them with extra comp time or vacation time as it wasn’t fair they were unable to be at their usual post during the uncontrollable weather event.

City officials noted that the office employees may have been at home those days, but they weren’t sitting doing nothing. They answered phones and worked on their computers from home when possible. For instance, one court clerk used 11 hours of comp time and the

Also proposed was to reward the maintenance and other employees who were on duty during the storm.

The city voted to reimburse office employees the pay different between comp and vacation time, up to 32 hours and to grant public works and police who worked those day with comp time at time and a half.

Hardy also proposed a resolution reducing elected officials salaries. She said she’d like to see pay to elected city officials eliminated entirely. It was noted that those who serve for free typically do so with the best interest of the city and those they serve at heart.

Because the city legally can’t stop pay in the middle of a term, a measure to eliminate pay for elected officials would need to be approved at the end of December before the year that the new term starts. For Places 3, 4 and 5, an end or reduction in pay could not be enacted until 2023. For the current cycle, the resolution should have been approved by the end of December 2020. However, that does not prohibit those who do receive compensation from returning the check and funding to the city.

The motion for pay reduction passed as proposed to begin at the next possible cycle.

Mask Mandate

The Cumby City Council also voted to lift the masking requirement for city employees and facilities, leaving the decision to the individual whether or not to wear a mask, but will plan to continue social distancing measures for at least the next 3 months. Since that will limit the number able to attend, the City Council will continue to provide a Zoom link which those who are unable to attend in-person city council meetings or are unable to attend can use to virtually log into and view the meeting. The possibility of having one computer to connect the entire council to the Zoom meeting was discussed as an alternative to all of the Council members logging into Zoom individually for each City Council meeting.

Judge Adams noted that courts can reopen for jury trials on April 1. They have nine pending. They do not anticipate beginning those until May. Social distancing will be a consideration.

Waste Disposal

Simmerman asked the council to consider creating a separate fund for Republic Services, so that funds paid monthly on utility bills for waste disposal can go directly into that fund so that it’s there in a separate fund in the city accounting system, ready to pay the city’s bill to Republic at the appropriate time. Currently that money is going into the general fund.

“We want to make sure we have the money there to pay that bill. Since we collect it every month, we need to be sure we have the money there to pay that,” the mayor noted.

Lackey said when customers’ bills are entered into the accounting system, funds can be allocated into the different funds. She said to the best of her knowledge, that can be removed from the general fund and added to the undeposited funds and allocated for waste disposal service.

The measure to create a separate fund in the accounting system for waste disposal received unanimous approval from Cumby City Council.

Other Regular Items

Lackey reported the City Employee Handbook is about 85 percent complete. She experienced some technical issues with the computer system being used, so she wasn’t able to give it a final polish, including aligning of an appendix and things of that nature.

A new Facebook page is being readied for the City of Cumby. The City Council will have access to it. They were asked to look it over to make sure everything is in order before its ready. The old Facebook page will cease being used, and includes a notation referring community members to the new official City of Cumby Facebook page.

Black Jack Road Water Line

Cumby City Council concluded the regular portion of the March 11 meeting at 7:12 p.m. and entered into executive session to discuss a proposal from the owner regarding a water line and state permitting at 11282 Black Jack Road.

At the Dec. 8 City Council meeting, Simmerman noted that Hot Rods by JSK (Jeff Kinsey) plans to expand the business by adding another building to the property. The existing water line runs across the property with no easement. The city maintenance staff had begun moving the water line within the city’s easement, down the ditch along the service road. However, the city is waiting on a permit from the state. Initially, the state had approved it, then notified City officials that the state needs the coordinates, and all work should halt until that time. Simmerman noted the coordinates can be attained from Hopkins County CAD. Kinsey indicated he would get the coordinates to provide to the state. no action was taken at that time. The matter was tabled. As of the Feb 22 City Council meeting approval was still needed from the state for the permit to proceed, officials reported. Kinsey expressed exasperation that the process was taking so long. His plans are on hold until the matter can be settled. No action could be taken.

When Cumby City Council returned from the closed session at 7:33 p.m. March 11, they were ready to vote on the issue. A motion was made to complete the process of moving the water lines at 11282 Black Jack Road. The conclusion stated was that since the city began the work the City of Cumby is responsible for finishing the work required to move the water line where it should have been installed to begin with. The Council agreed to proceed with relocation of the water line from the property along the easement.

Author: Faith Huffman

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