Como City Board

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 7, 2010

Salary request gets shot down in Como

By John Howell Sr.

Como town officials dealt with a range of issues from the mayor’s pay request to the police chief’s overtime Tuesday night at May’s first meeting of the mayor and aldermen.

Mayor Everette Hill made a pay request late in the meeting, asking aldermen for a $600 salary monthly. Salary for the town’s elected officials has been a divisive issue since 2007 when an Internal Revenue Service seizure of the town’s banking accounts led to a series of revelations about unpaid municipal debts amounting to several hundred thousand dollars. Aldermen then voted that elected officials would serve without pay until the town’s fiscal condition improved.

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The mayor and aldermen reviewed the pay issue in November 2009, when then-Mayor Judy Sumner broke a 2-2 tie to include salaries of $250 per month for aldermen and $1,000 monthly for the mayor.

Following Sumner’s death in January, the budget was amended, Como Municipal Clerk Scott Rhines said, because the budget had been “way overspent.” The salary for the mayor — Vice Mayor Forster Ruhl was holding the position until a special election — and for Aldermen Bill Mitchell was taken out of the budget. Then-Alderman Everette Hill, and Aldermen Ruby Higgenbottom and Clark Gregory, continued to receive their salaries.

“I need a mayor’s salary,” the mayor said when the evening’s agenda arrived at new business.

Higgenbottom made the motion that was seconded by Alderman Teresa Dishmon. Aldermen Ruhl, Mitchell and Gregory voted against the mayor’s pay request.

“I want to see the figures before we amend the budget,” Gregory said.

“We got three board members getting paid, so there (is) nothing wrong with the mayor getting paid,” Hill replied.

Near the close of the report on his department, Police Chief Fred Boskey asked for clarification on overtime and time card protocol for himself and his department.

“There was some overtime I was putting in; it sometimes happens,” Boskey said. “I was told there not supposed to be any written time cards; you don’t write them, you’re supposed to punch them,” he continued. “I was wondering if that referred to the chief also.”

“The reason this came forward is, y’all remember y’all said y’all didn’t want nobody writing on time cards,” the mayor said, addressing aldermen. “Like I told the chief, ‘I didn’t have a problem with it but let’s bring it to the board and clear it,’” Hill continued.

“Back when Cleve Gale was chief y’all cleared all that writing on time cards … there was a lot of writing going on. So my thing was to clear me as mayor and the city clerk,” Hill said.

“Y’all were stressing overtime. We’re looking at 18 to 20 hours every week,” the mayor continued. Boskey agreed. The discussion continued for over 15 minutes, with the mayor and aldermen offering different recollections of previous overtime and write-in policies. Rhines said that he had been unable to find meeting minutes that recorded the previous policy.

The discussion ended with a motion by Mitchell to allow the police chief to write in time on a time card with his signature. Higgenbottom provided the second and aldermen approved it unanimously.