Como City

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 24, 2007

‘Got to’ must be adopted in Como

After several town board meetings where it appeared that incremental progress had been made in taking care of Como’s business and financial plight, Tuesday night looked like a setback.

For various reasons that may or may not get expounded on in this or a subsequent issue, aldermen could not agree to approve the payroll for town employees. It is an impasse that they have faced before, a “Catch-22,” the mayor observed.

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Steps toward resolution must be taken immediately for Como to remain viable and avoid further embarrassment, financial loss and a loss of the civic momentum that has made the small, picturesque town a dining and cultural destination from throughout the region.

Certain actions have got to occur.

Got to number 1: The mayor has got to realize that he must provide all the financial data that aldermen have been seeking. Tuesday night it got pretty blunt. “I don’t trust the mayor’s figures,” said alderman-at-large Forster Ruhl following a terse exchange with the mayor.

Ruhl and aldermen Clark Gregory and Richard Taylor have increasingly expressed concern about their personal liability for municipal expenditures against insufficient town funds.

To repeat, Mayor Lewers has got to make the financial data — bills, payroll records, etc. — completely transparent so that all the aldermen will be comfortable with voting to make payroll.

Got to number 2: Town employees have got to be paid. It is likely that most of Como’s employees are living from paycheck to paycheck and those are very modest indeed. Como, and aldermen specifically, must empathize with their municipal workers. Decisions about whether employees receive paychecks get bumped from meeting to meeting.

Contributing to an atmosphere of mistrust is that aldermen have occasionally even if unintentionally appeared to be indifferent to the plight of employees in paycheck limbo. In fairness, it must be stated that none has yet missed a paycheck, but the pattern since July has created uncertainty and mistrust.

Got to number 3: Deputy Town Clerk LaToya Taylor has got to have help. Though her remarks during Tuesday’s meeting were prefaced with an expression of her preference that they not appear in the newspaper, she ended up speaking rather passionately for all Como employees. Her point was that she and her co-workers are caught in the middle of a standoff over which they have no control.

Since July, Taylor has attempted to perform two jobs in the town hall office. At meetings, she has attempted to calmly answer occasional sarcasm-laced questions that have been misdirected towards her. She has proved to be a trooper during this crisis. The numerous and occasionally conflicting job tasks that she must perform in the town hall office have been observed and commented on by a representative of the town’s accounting firm, its lawyer and by the former Batesville City Clerk and by the present Crenshaw City Clerk, both of whom have volunteered their help at times. Aldermen have got to get Taylor enough help in the office to allow her time to produce and compile the figures they want to see at each meeting.

That brings us back to got to number 1.