Kingston to vote on rehiring former employee
by Matt Shinall
Jan 04, 2011 | 2285 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kingston Mayor Dexter Jones brought forth an agenda item at Monday's work session to rehire former City Treasurer Celeste Keeter, this time as Clerk of Court.

The mayor, concerned with the condition of court documents, asked the council to consider the hiring of Keeter on a part-time basis to organize and execute fines, forfeitures and citations.

"The condition of our court records right now, to put it mildly, is not in good shape. We need to get someone in there with a background to get all the court records organized. We want to make sure the city of Kingston is in compliance with the state of Georgia," Jones said, adding that revenue could also be made from their enforcement.

Records, according to the mayor, are currently out of compliance with state law in a manner he feels is unsafe for documents containing personal information. He cited the occurrence of incidents in which driver's licensees have been kept for multiple years or even being lost due to poor filing.

Councilman Louise Howell presented the mayor with city policy forbidding the rehiring of a terminated employee. Keeter left the City Treasurer position in October.

Also on the agenda for Monday's regular session is a resolution for the timely replanting of trees accidentally cut down by the Kingston maintenance department in the historic Railroad "Y." Last summer, the Kingston maintenance department mowed down 37 sawtooth oaks donated by Keep Bartow Beautiful and planted by volunteers from KBB, Bartow County Master Gardeners and the city of Kingston.

President of the Bartow County Master Gardeners and Kingston resident Kate Posey, addressed the council with a resolution which was approved by the city attorney. The concern is that progress has not been made in ratifying the situation and key planting season will end with the conjunction of Arbor Day in February.

"We have a very small window to plant these trees. Georgia is very hot and dry now so in order for these trees to survive they need to be planted now. I'm not saying they need to stay in the same place for 20 years," Posey said. "A tree is not a permanent structure so it is not contraindicated in any aspect. It's only going to beautify the city."

Jones replied however that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," stating that there may be better uses of the land and better locations for the trees.

"My wishes would be that we get together and see if that is the best place to put the trees or if there is another place that would allow us to use that wide open space for other uses," Jones said. "To me that almost devalues the beauty of the Railroad Y.

"To plant that many trees in that small an area, I don't know why you would want to do that."

In August, the council approved a committee to be formed to discuss the replanting of the trees. According to Posey, the committee only met once.

"We have free trees, we have free labor we're willing to give to the city as long as you say you're not going to indiscriminately cut down the trees," Posey said.

The last item scheduled for discussion Monday was the adoption of a budget resolution for 2011 to act in the place of a formal budget while one can be prepared. The delay was a result of a long-overdue 2009 audit to better understand the city's financial standing. The audit, which has recently been received, will continue to shed light on the situation as the information is disseminated.

Jones, despite his confidence in the city's financial stability, stated that knowledge of city finances has been bleak without insight from this audit. He hopes this information will clear the air in time for a formal budget to be adopted in February.

"On the finances, we just don't know what's what. We don't know what we owe. There are no records being kept of who we owe. And all these things are what the audit has had to sort out and we didn't know where our money was coming from," Jones said.

Before the council adjourned, Howell prompted a discussion by asking the mayor about City Clerk Michele Jones' keys to city hall. The item has been brought up multiple times at prior meetings since the mayor had the locks changed without providing a key for the City Clerk. After some debate, Councilman Chuck Wise asked for the matter to be added to next week's agenda and discussed in closed session.

The Kingston City Council will hold its regular meeting Monday at 7 p.m. at city hall.