The council voted 3 – 2 to fill Steven Elder’s vacant seat with Margie Decker, candidate for the Leitchfield City Council in the November General Election 2012, but missed the council coming in seventh place.
The council was given packets with six applications for Steven Elder’s vacant seat: Ryan Bratcher, Howard Decker, Nick Ramsey, Kelly Stevenson, Leon Shaw and Margie Decker.
Margie Decker was the only applicant at the meeting.
Councilman Jerry Schlosser made the motion to add Decker to the council; his motion was seconded by Councilwoman Margaret Fey. Councilman Harold Miller also voted in favor of Decker taking the vacant seat, but Councilmen Billy Dallas and Raymond “Tooty” Cottrell voted against, saying they did not know enough about Decker to vote in her favor, calling it “nothing personal.”
Dallas said “Here’s my only deal, Margie, I’ll look at you and tell you, I have talked to you three times in my life that I know of; I’ve know Lambert (Decker) 20 years, known him all my life. I don’t know your ideas, I don’t know your visions, I don’t know your goals, I don’t know the leadership you want to bring to the city. There’s been given the task of five people to vote you on this council. I’ve not been contacted by you or nobody else. I don’t know where you stand on issues we’ve had before, I don’t know work schedules, I don’t know your commitment, it’s more than just Monday nights, and I know you know that, it’s more than just fielding phone calls on ditches. It’s a huge commitment to be a leader in this community. Since I haven’t talked to you, I don’t know what your goals are, what your visions are.”
Decker said she tried to call Dallas, but he said he had not received any phone messages on his cell or home phone or had any missed call. Decker said she had spoken with everyone but Dallas.
Dallas continued by saying “We are liaisons’ for this community. We are liaisons’ for the industrial community.”
Decker defender herself saying she understood the commitment this position required saying, “I’ve worked in retail for almost 25 years, I have enough management ability that I know what it takes to make decision and deal with people, I know what it takes and ideals. You know, like Steven Elder said the other day with the 3% thing (restaurant tax), that he wishes he would have presented it in a different way. Now, with talking to the people when I ran, I probably wouldn’t have been for that, but that’s already done and past, that’s an ideal that’s behind us, that’s already done and gone, you know, so I don’t have any problem with that. I know how to deal with problems.”
Dallas said, “I guess what I’m getting at is, I wish I would’ve heard that a week or two ago. I’ve got nothing against you personally, you or Lambert.”
Decker said, “The radio and in the newspaper it said that people don’t know who I am, I’ve worked at Wal-Mart for 20 years, I’ve worked in Human Resource for 20 years, and lived in this county for 40 years, I’m a very outgoing person, I talk to people, I deal with a lot of issues with hiring people and all kinds of issues with people. I’ve worked at the hospital and I don’t know why people don’t know who I am?”
After the official vote was called, Mayor William Thomason asked Decker to formally take her seat and City Attorney Ken Smart delivered the official oath of office.
The issue of how to fill the vacant seat resurfaced later in the meeting and tempers began to flare. Dallas and Cottrell felt it was on their shoulders to place the best person for the job in the vacant seat and were not comfortable voting for someone who they did not know their views for the city.
Councilwoman Fey and Schlosser said it was not about choosing the best person but taking the next person on the ballot, saying they were fulfilling the voice of the people.
Councilwoman Margaret Fey declared, “We are the government of the people, of the PEOPLE, not of a bunch of PhD’s.” Dallas asked her to elaborate and she refused. She continued to say, “We are the voice of the people. The people put us here. Whether you are brilliant minded or not.”
The bantering continued between the council about how the seat should have been filled but Fey continued to insinuate that only educated people were wanted on the council by Dallas.
“Are you an EMT or a paramedic,” Fey asked Dallas who answered, “An EMT, what’s that got to do with this?” “A lot,” answered Fey, who wouldn’t elaborate.
Councilman Jerry Schlosser was adamant they should stand with the voters, as did Fey.
Councilman Harold Miller suggested the group get together for working sessions to better the communication between the six councilpersons.
Mayor William Thomason informed the council that he expected them to be more involved in all city business including their attendance at tourism commissioner meetings, Chamber of Commerce events and meetings. “We have some council members that are not involved; you need to be involved in the community.”
Fey said she did not involve herself with these events saying, “There’s too many of the same people involved in everything here, everything; why don’t we make room for new people, for other people to be involved.”
“I’m talking about the chamber meetings, the tourism meetings; I’ve never seen you there.” – Mayor
“That’s why, cause I feel like the same people are involved in everything here. We need to make room for other folks. There’s more than a hand full of people in this town that can do something,” said Fey.
Mayor said, “You can still be involved in the community just like we are. Jerry gives his time to the fire department, which takes a whole lot of time out, that’s a volunteer basis. We all have something we all give to, like the Chamber (of Commerce) or the Industrial Foundation or anything else; somebody’s going to have to take (over) for the older people, that’s what Steven (Elder) was talking about, we need to get the youth involved in our community.”
Fey agreed the youth need to be involved.
After the meeting adjourned, K105 spoke with Decker who said, “I just want to serve the people, I’m excited about being on here. I want to work for the people of the city, that’s why I ran for the city council, I want to work with the rest of the city council and the mayor and I want to do anything I can to help. I do have ideals that I want to work with them on, and us have special meetings and us work as a team. I’m sorry people don’t know who I am, I want to be more out with people and let them know my ideals on things and I’m just too excited right now to tell you what I do want to do, but I do have goals for the city.”
Decker talked about how emotional it was when she did not win during the General Election but said, “I didn’t even think this would happen, I didn’t think Steven would even be leaving, he’s a very smart man, very educated and had a lot of good ideas and I never thought that he would be leaving and that I would be given an opportunity to come to the city council, and I am very grateful.”
In other city business:
Councilman Jerry Schlosser formally resigned, announcing his acceptance of the Leitchfield Fire Chief’s position. LFD Chief Carl “Moon” Smith made a formal presentation nominating Schlosser for the position and the council voted unanimously. Smith presented Schlosser with a shield for his fire helmet.
The council heard and approved the 2nd readings of the Utilities Revenue Refunding Bond Ordinance, the June 30th 2013 Amended Budget and the June 30, 2014 Proposed Budget Ordinance.
The council also learned that with their acceptance of the Leitchfield Utilities proposed budget, they were approved $100 monthly raises for each commissioner. The raise will take each commissioner to $500 monthly salaries. The budget was approved. Mayor Thomason said the commissioner’s last raise was in 2000.
The council approved the 2013-2014 health insurance plan that changes little, according to City Treasurer Erin Embry but increases 1.11%, which Embry called a pleasant surprise.
Councilman Miller made a motion to create the position of a financial officer. The motion was approved. City Treasurer Embry will be leaving her position with the city as Clerk/Tresurer, but will return as a part time employee as the city’s Chief Fianancial Officer. The city’s current CPA, Dan Drane, will no longer perform audits for the city due to a lack of adequate staff, and Mayor Thomason said they asked the public accounting firm of Buckles, Travis, Sloan and Hart but they were no longer performing municipal audits. The city is looking at a firm in Elizabethtown, Ky as a potential auditor.
The council will rename the short entrance on Brandenburg Road that leads to Old Brandenburg Road. The “Old” portion of the name was dropped years ago, and drivers are confused thinking they need to turn left to continue onto Brandenburg Road.
Leitchfield Police Chief Kevin Henderson requested the city add signage to the intersection of the William Thomason Byway and Salt River Road to detour semis from turning on to Salt River Road. He said they have to turn semis around because their GPS systems are inaccurate. The council agreed to speak with KTC Chief District Engineer Patty Dunaway to see if the signage could be added.