One item made the agenda, lumping several issues under the title of personnel matters. Among those listed was an appeal from a former employee caught in city layoffs, city hall locks being changed, status of city treasurer job hiring and "other employee matters."
The appeal came from Bradley Holmes objecting to the terms of his termination. The council approved in October to lay off four city employees effective Nov. 9. Two from the police department, Assistant Police Chief Jared Smith and Officer Mike Conners, along with two from public works, Holmes and Antavius Lindley, were let go.
In his appeal, Holmes cited his belief that he is the most qualified employee in the maintenance and water department, having been employed with the city for almost five years with 10 years in a municipal water system. He claims that his removal was based on personal reasons.
Mayor Dexter Jones, who publicly opposed the council's decision to enact layoffs, replied to the appeal with the reiteration that the layoff is temporary and he hopes to review the positions after receiving the city's financial audit. He added that the determining factor used in deciding who would be laid off was work ethic. He explained, saying that work ethic is made more valuable when their labor force is reduced.
Expressing optimism, as he has in the past, Jones commented on the city's financial stability as he sees it. The city is awaiting word from accountants on the certified audit, which the mayor hopes to have in a matter of days.
"Hopefully, after the audit comes out we can have a better picture of our finances," Jones said. "Kingston, in my opinion, is one of the few cities where we have the money -- and this audit is going to show it -- to take care of the maintenance people in the long run and the police department in the long run. I feel extremely confident in that."
Jones specifically wants to see a return in employment numbers for the police department to provide adequate safety.
"It can kind of make you uncomfortable when you have to operate with limited police. My job is to protect this city and I've got to get my guys the numbers they need out here, especially coming up on the holiday season," Jones said.
Other matters expressly listed under the agenda item were the locks being changed and hiring of a city treasurer. The locks were reported changed in the main office with City Clerk Michele Jones not receiving keys, keeping her from being able to access the office when needed. After the council's executive session, it was said that Michele Jones would receive copies of the new key.
The city treasurer position is still open with the city using the Georgia Department of Labor's Georgia Works program, which allows the city to hire a temporary worker, to fill the position on a trial basis at no cost while the DOL pays the employee a small stipend.
The Kingston City Council will meet again Monday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. at city hall for their December work session.