Clearly, the “old guard” in city government is less than willing to consider new approaches to the business of running Water Valley. Obstruction was the order of the evening at last Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting – not only from elected officials but from city employees as well.
Here are several examples that came up during the meeting. In October, a motion was made and approved to provide line item copies of their 2018 budgets to each of the city department heads. As the fire chief noted, he did not receive this information until Monday. Obviously, there had not been enough time for a thorough review of his budget in order to answer questions or make requests/recommendations. He also indicated that this was the FIRST time in his four year tenure that he had actually seen a detailed version of his budget.
In October, it was also agreed that each department head would be given a list of available jobs for their department. This was another instance in which the information that had been promised was not delivered.
At the last meeting, the head of the street department had been tasked with researching the cost of signs to be placed at the pedestrian crosswalks on Main Street. When asked to provide an update to the Board, he said he was still working on it.
After years of one man rule, the current Board of Aldermen meetings generally last several hours. Several reasons for the increased duration of meetings include aldermen who want to actually discuss agenda items as well as citizens who are now empowered to be actively involved in city governance. A motion was made and approved by the three new aldermen to change the ordinances to allow for holding two meetings each month.
A number of towns smaller than ours, like Bruce, hold bi-monthly meetings. However, the two Broad members who have served previously were opposed to this change. One even declared that he would NOT attend two meetings a month. (Yes – receiving approximately $450 a month for brief, once-a-month Board meetings was a very sweet deal.)
Like it or not, our city is growing and how things have been done in the past are no longer sufficient. Please keep in mind that the Fire Department is attempting to perform its duties with half of the recommended staff. Some parts of the city are routinely experiencing power outages impacting not only residential areas but Main Street businesses as well. Enforcement of traffic rules is nonexistent – try crossing Main in a crosswalk or watch everyone (bus drivers included) speed on Market Street where one of our schools is located. As we go to the polls on December 19th to elect a new major, do you want our town to move forward or are you satisfied with the status quo?
Water Valley Race Course