Kingston council upholds police chief demotion
by Matt Shinall
Aug 23, 2011 | 2582 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In a special called meeting Monday, the appeal of former Kingston Police Chief Walter Harrell was denied after the Kingston City Council came to a split decision with Mayor Dexter Jones casting the deciding vote.

Jones voted to uphold the decision he made at the end of July demoting Harrell from chief to patrolman. Monday's meeting was called last week after a special called meeting hearing Harrell's appeal.

On Friday, Jones terminated Harrell's employment citing allegations that Harrell lied in regards to training he attended in Savannah in July. The vote taken Monday, however, was solely to decide on his appeal regarding the demotion. Any action taken would have been effectual for the time up to his termination, as was explained by City Attorney Peter Olson before a motion was made.

"We're not here to consider appealing the termination. It just happened Friday, everybody needs time," Olson said. "We're not voting on the termination or whether that was appropriate or not. We're just voting on what you all heard last week."

Councilman Chuck Wise made the motion to reinstate Harrell as chief with back pay from the time of his demotion up until his termination. The motion was seconded by Councilman Billy Sanders with Councilmen Ed Micklas and Louise Howell voting in opposition. Jones split the tie with a nay vote.

Also decided Monday were the fate of three referendums concerning the alcoholic beverage ordinance. All three were approved and pending further approval from the U.S. Department of Justice will be seen on the ballot for public decision in November. The resolutions were for the package sale of beer and wine on Sundays, the sale of alcohol by the drink on Sunday and the sale of distilled spirits by the drink on the premises.

Lastly, Kingston rolled back the millage rate to zero. The city does not impose property taxes but must officially set a millage rate each year in accordance with Local Option Sales Tax revenue for the state to determine a gross millage rate. The measure also goes toward the calculation of intangible taxes such as Kingston's railroad franchise fee.