Members of the Lynch City Council took measures during a special called meeting on Thursday to ensure their water plant operator, Wendy Brashears, understood she must attend council meetings. The council also approved an action giving her until Jan. 25 to take her Class III water plant operator’s test.
If she fails to obtain her license on that date, she will be terminated.
“I think the city has gone as far as it can go on this,” said councilman Taylor Hall. “I think we should give Wendy until the next testing period to obtain her Class III water plant operator’s license and, if not, the city replaces her.”
Talking at length with Brashears, council members asked why she had not been attending council meetings for the past eight months. Brashears said she will “come to meetings from now on,” but added “Let it be known I had better be asked questions. I have been to them before and was not asked anything.”
“Another reason I’m sick and tired of getting b——— at about overtime,” said Brashears. “I’m allowed 40 hours a week and if I work overtime, like I have to work every other weekend, and I have to take off the following week for that (council meeting) — I’m not allowed overtime.”
Financial Officer Bill Dean said every city employee is asked to keep their hours at 40 hours per week and she was not being singled out.
“All you have to do is attend one meeting a month, give your report and then you can leave — probably no more than 15 or 20 minutes at most,” said councilman Terry Lewis. “You aren’t required to stay the entire meeting.”
Councilman Winston Yeary said as far as asking questions, “Sometimes council members have questions and sometimes they don’t.”
“Even if we don’t have a question for you, you need to be here to give your report to the council,” said Yeary.
Brashears went on to say she had not received any letters telling her to be at council meetings.
“I personally talked with you about attending council meetings,” said Mayor Johnny Adams. “I’ve had our city clerk Erica (Eldridge) call you the day before or the day of the council meetings to remind you to be at the council meetings. Me and you have had some long talks at the water plant about you not attending council meetings. I told you to come and explain yourself or defend yourself because the council had questions.”
Brashears said she’d rather council members come to the water plant and see her, instead of her coming to council meetings.
“Our duty is to question you at council meetings,” said Collins. “It’s not our job to come to the water plant to see you.”
Councilman Stanley Sturgill said during the time he has spent on the council when the discussion came up about Brashears not being at the meetings, council members continually wanted to know when she was going to obtain her Class III water plant operator’s license.
“The way I read the letter you sent to me you don’t intend to get your license until you get money (from the city) to do it,” said Sturgill. “The city paid for it the first time you took your test and failed. At some point you told the council you would get your license and the city gave you until December 2011 to do that, and here it is December 2012 and you still haven’t.
“I don’t know how important this is to you. You talk about your job being important and how hard you work… and we’ve all worked hard in this room… if I had an obligation to my job I was always there. What I’m saying is, I hate this, but if you make an obligation to do something you need to keep up your end of the obligation and I don’t think you’ve kept your end up to get your license and attend these city council meetings. You just flip your nose up at us and send us a letter saying everything is going to be OK. If my job was on the line and it depended on me getting a little money to go to Frankfort to pass a test, I’d already been there.”
Brashears said she doesn’t feel like she can pass the test at this time and she doesn’t have the money to pay for the test.
Adams said a city ordinance is on file saying the city will only pay for the first test taken. After that the employee is responsible for that cost.
“Well, I’m just telling you I don’t have the money to go right now and I won’t be able to go until I get the money plain and simple,” said Brashears. “And another thing, I don’t like being called out in a meeting and it being publicized in the newspaper.”
“Council meetings are open to the public and the press,” said Yeary. “The press can print anything said in those meetings. You’ve been asked to turn off lights and turn down the heat at the water plant when you leave and you’re not even doing that when our city is not in good financial shape. This is being disrespectful to the city. You should be trying to help save the city money. If you expect a raise you should be trying to find ways to save money. You shouldn’t have to be told to turn lights off when you leave. The bill is about $2,000 higher than it has been down there.”
“You all do what you need to do. I’ve done everything I can,” said Brashears.
In other council action, the first reading of an ordinance approving a joint and cooperative program for insurance and the investment of public funds among various cities, urban-county governments and other public agencies within the Commonwealth of Kentucky was read.
Council went into executive session per KRS 61.810 and returned with no action taken.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at email@example.com