Kingston layoffs take effect
by Matt Shinall
Nov 09, 2010 | 2383 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The vote to lay off two Kingston maintenance department personnel and place two police officers on reserve status made at an Oct. 18 special called meeting went into effect today with no mention of the action being made at Monday's council meeting.

The reduction in staff comes as the council and mayor continue to disagree on the city's financial stability. Mayor Dexter Jones reiterates his confidence in the city's fiscal standing despite the council's attempt to cut expenditures.

Monday's meeting also contained an agenda item concerning a pay raise for City Clerk Michele Jones, which she said alleged is a result of the mayor's actions decreasing her pay in a humiliating manner.

"There was a called meeting in the office where the mayor called all the employees into the office and decreased my pay in front of everybody," Michele Jones said at Monday's meeting, adding afterward that she feels the announcement was a personal attack. "I feel like the mayor is doing anything and everything he can in his power to force me to quit. I'm doing the job of three people by myself plus I'm getting chore lists with five or six different things on it every day."

The mayor upholds that no personal attacks have occurred and that his actions are made with the city's interest in mind. He refrained from entering a dialogue on the matter during Monday's meeting, which he said was not the proper place. No decision was made Monday and the item was tabled.

A Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax purchase of $112,000 was approved Monday for a new garbage truck. The issue had raised concern because the current truck was purchased about one year ago and has since been hindered with maintenance issues. Now suffering from hydraulic failures and transmission errors, the current truck was deemed to be in need of replacement.

The current truck was purchased used from the city of Rome for $25,000 and questions have been posed about the purchasing decision. To avoid such possibilities in the future, the mayor proposed to buy a new truck. The reasoning behind this purchase he feels lies in the garbage service's annual revenue.

"The revenue generated from this truck at present would be about $65,000 per year, that's gross revenue. Right now we're losing about $15,000 in repairs on the current garbage truck and it's not going to last much longer," Jones said. "We cannot afford to take a hit right now of losing that $65,000 per year, and over a five year period the garbage truck would be paid for."

Councilman Ed Miklas suggested the possibility of privatizing the garbage service; Jones argued such a move would still amount to a loss of revenue as franchise fees are typically a small portion of collections.

Councilman Chuck Wise voiced concern when it was mentioned that the SPLOST budget for equipment may not be sufficient at this time to make the purchase. A loan, however, could be taken out against future SPLOST dollars.

"I know none of this [equipment] is made to last forever and I hate to keep talking about it, but it's like anything else, it's how I run my house: I don't spend it if I don't have it," Wise said.

A vote was taken and passed at an Oct. 25 special called meeting to hire Angela McCoy Dawson as part-time treasurer to replace the position left vacant by Celeste Keeter. Dawson, however, never filled the position because of another job offer leaving City Clerk Michele Jones the sole city office employee. George Kolasinkiski was on the agenda Monday to be hired as part-time city treasurer but the agenda item died for lack of a motion.