A heated discussion concerning the duties of the city’s maintenance department resulted in Cumberland Mayor Carl Hatfield temporarily walking out of a council meeting on Tuesday.
Council member Carolyn Elliott inquired about some work the city reportedly was performing for the tourism board.
“Why are we cleaning out a shed for tourism?” asked Elliott. “We’re paying city workers to do things like that when we’ve got manholes that are open that need to be worked on?”
Councilman Charles Raleigh stated the Cumberland Tourism Board had their own funds that could be used.
“I can only say that this maintenance department has done more to improve the appearance and clean up this city than has been done in years,” said Hatfield.
According to Elliott, Hatfield has not been keeping track of the maintenance department properly.
“It appears to me like you’re not being over this department as you should or some of these things wouldn’t be being done,” said Elliott.
Council member Yvonne Gilliam mentioned the area behind the high school needed to be looked at by the maintenance department because there were some items that needed to be removed.
“You could help the city a lot when you see something like that call (the maintenance department) and they’ll go pick it up right then,” said Hatfield.
Councilman David Dixon disagreed with this suggestion.
“Why do we need to call the maintenance department when we pay three clerks to take calls?” demanded Dixon.
Hatfield said all citizens were encouraged to call the appropriate department if they saw any work that needs to be done.
“They should be out working, who’s up there to answer the phone?” asked Dixon. “That doesn’t answer my question.”
Hatfield said he did not have the answer to Dixon’s question.
Dixon stated the job of answering the phone belonged to the city clerk.
“Supervisors shouldn’t be sitting in an office all day. They need to be out watching their employees,” exclaimed Dixon.
Hatfield advised that each supervisor is responsible for their own department, adding that the city had been written up in past audits for lack of segregation of duties.
“I want to see a job description for the clerks, and I want to see it right now,” said Dixon.
Hatfield told Dixon he would have to go get it.
“That’s not my job,” exclaimed Dixon. “My job is to make laws and make sure they are being followed through with.”
Hatfield then stood up from his seat and exited the building.
During Hatfield’s absence, Dixon made a motion that Elliott take over as chairman for the meeting. The motion, seconded by Raleigh, was passed unanimously by the council.
Hatfield returned and the council rescinded the motion.
“I’m sorry about that, but I thought we were wasting a lot of time on aggravating things that don’t amount to a hill of beans,” said Hatfield.
The council then moved on to a lengthy discussion of the budget resulting in a meeting being set for a budget workshop.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or email@example.com