City of Margaret
April 04, 2023
In attendance: Councilman James Chapman, Councilman Darius Crump, Councilman Matthew Tortorice, Councilman Jonathan Ray, Mayor Pro-Tern Daryl McIntyre, and Mayor Isaac Howard
Prayer: Mr. Barker Pledge of Alliance
Meeting was called to order Discussion:
Mayor Pro-Tem Daryl McIntyre made the Motion to approve Council Meeting minutes from 2-21-2023 as written. Councilman James Chapman seconded the Motion. The Motion passed with 3 for and 2 against. Councilman Tortorice pointed out that the minutes were not in the council package and revisions had been submitted that were not included, noting that the rest of the council have not read the minutes.
Councilman Tortorice noted that the Redistricting and the Strategic plan were two different topics and asked that they be separated at the next council meeting.
Councilman Matthew Tortorice made the Motion to allow $5000.00 for the RPCGB to redistrict lines for the City of Margaret. Councilman Jonathan Ray seconded the Motion. Motion failed 2 for and 3 against. Mayor Howard said he thinks we can get it done cheaper or do it ourselves. He stated that he thought we had done it in house before but has no proof of that. Councilman Tortorice pointed out that we already spent $3,000 to renew our membership with the RPCGB in order to get the best price to do the redistricting and that they would follow all laws and regulations.
Councilman Matthew Tortorice would like for the city to table RPCGB drawing up a five-year plan for the City of Margaret to promote growth. Councilman Jonathan Ray seconded the Motion. The Motion passed unanimously.
Councilman James Chapman made the Motion to pay the City of Pell City the amount of $6000.00 for the FY 2023 animal control fees. Mayor Pro Tem Daryl McIntyre seconded the Motion. The Motion passed unanimously.
Councilman Matthew Tortorice made a Motion for the Council to approve an amount of up to $1000.00 to purchase equipment to live stream council meetings via Facebook Live. Councilman Jonathan Ray seconded the Motion. Motion passed with 3 for and 2 against.
Councilman Matthew Tortorice made a Motion to table the discussion on a forensic audit. Councilman Darius Crump seconded the Motion. The Motion passed unanimously.
Councilman Matthew Tortorice made a Motion to approve the Amended Ordinance 2022-0405 Sewer Fees which allows the setting of reservation sewer fees for residential and commercial and their duration, reinspection fees, tampering fees, late fee assessment fee days, and impact fees.
Mr. Barker, the building inspector, informed the Council of quotes that he received to repair Old Acton (146,402.00), Sunrise ($8689.00), Sunny ($1642.00), and Michael ($7417.00) streets. Sunrise Dr., Old Acton Rd, and Michael St. All quotes include labor and materials. Councilman James Chapman made the Motion to approve the quotes as presented by Mr. Barker. Mayor Pro-Tem Daryl McIntyre seconded the Motion. The Motion passed unanimously.
Pleasant Valley Construction Phase 6 Plat which would replace 2- 100 ft. lots with 3- 50 ft lots was tabled. Mayor Pro-Tem Daryl McIntyre made a Motion to approve the minutes/or Council Meeting 3-7-2023 as written. Motion dies from a lack of second.
Councilman Matthew Tortorice made a Motion to table the minutes for Council Meeting 3-7-2023 until the corrections were made and add additional information. Councilman Tortorice pointed out that nobody else caught that the meeting packet had the same minutes in it twice, indicating that nobody else read the packet. Councilman Jonathan Ray seconded the Motion. Motion passed with 4 for and 2 against.
Councilman Matthew Tortorice made the Motion to authorize Isaac Howard to execute the proper paperwork for the City to take possession of the water right of way under the railroad from Brookhaven Development Partners. Councilman Darius Crump seconded the Motion. The Motion passed unanimously.
Councilman James Chapman made a Motion to accept the donation of land by Brookhaven Development Partners with the addendum as suggested by City Attorney Erskine Funderburg. The Parcel is located at the Southeast corner of the Southeast¼ of the Northeast¼ section 14, township 16 South, Range 1 East, St. Clair County, Alabama. Councilman Matt Tortorice seconded the motion. The Motion passed unanimously.
Harvey McWhorter addressed the Council about giving Brookhaven Development Partners a break on sewer taps due to changes to the requirements after he already established the plats.
Councilman Jonathan Ray made the Motion to donate $500.00 to the Children’s Place annual benefit luncheon to raise awareness of National Child Abuse and get the available 8 tickets for anyone that wants to attend. Councilman Darius Crump seconded the Motion. The Motion passed unanimously.
Changes to the water/sewer applications tables because Isaac needs to add more items. No second.
Councilman Matthew Tortorice made the Motion to table the purchase of office furniture for Mayor’s Isaac Howard office for $4476.00 until a budget is adopted. Councilman Jonathan Ray seconded the Motion. A concerned citizen questioned the language of the Motion. And continued to interrupt the meeting. Mayor Isaac was asked to take control of the meeting, and Councilman Tortorice noted the precedent that citizens have been expelled from the meeting for less than that. The concerned citizen expressed his offense. The Motion failed because of a lack of a majority. 2 for and 3 against.
Mayor Pro-Tem Daryl McIntyre made the Motion to purchase office equipment for the mayor’s office for $4476.00. Councilman James Chapman seconded the Motion. The Motion passed with a majority. 3 for and 2 against.
Councilman Matthew Tortorice made a Motion to allow the City to pay for any council member that wanted to go to ALM training. April 18th training cost is $150.00 and the annual conference in Birmingham cost is $425.00. Councilman Darius Crump seconded the Motion. The Motion passed unanimously.
Councilman Jonathan Ray made the Motion for the City to pay for Teja McIntyre, City Clerk’s room, and travel plus per diem for the conference in Minnesota because she won a scholarship that pays for the conference. Councilman James Chapman seconded the Motion. The Motion passed unanimously.
Councilman Jonathan Ray made a Motion for the City to donate $250.00 to the St Clair Knights Chess Club chess tournament to be held on 4-22- 2023.
Mayor Pro-TemDaryl McIntyre made the Motion to pay an additional monthly retainer fee of $500.00 to City Attorney Erskine Funderburg. Councilman James Chapman seconded the Motion. The Motion passed unanimously.
Erskine suggested that the city keeps inventory of equipment in light of the furniture disappearing.
Councilman Matthew Tortorice made a Motion to allow up to $15,000.00 for the purchase of a receiver, antenna, laptop, and software for the water department out of the American Rescue funds. Councilman Darius Crump seconded the Motion. The Motion passed unanimously.
David Parrish addressed the Council about ordering 400 meters at $200 each in order to lock the bulk price in. The individual meters are $265. Erskine said if we had a budget it would not even be a discussion, it is an operational expense and we are just approving the purchase, but it does not require a vote.
There was no NAACP Representative present per the Agenda.
Mayor Isaac Howard asked for any more comments:
Councilman James Chapman – no Councilman Darius Crump – no
Councilman Matthew Tortorice asked for the television remotes so he could present about his top 5 priorities. Mayor Howard tried to stop Councilman Tortorice from speaking stating he would rather have the conversation in the back and asked for the Council’s pleasure on whether to let me speak. Erskine told them that I had the floor. They would not allow Councilman Tortorice to broadcast his Priorities PowerPoint on the TVs purchased for that purpose.
Councilman Tortorice proceeded to discuss his top 5 priorities:
- Multi-year growth plan
- Official Operation and Capital Budget
- Working relationships with surrounding cities, the county and school board.
- Economic Development Plan
- Improve city boundary via annexation.
Erskine advised that I get sample city budgets from surrounding municipalities to show how it works.
Councilman Ray has had several complaints concerning potholes and he would like a system in place to document pothole patching. Cedar Crest Way, Turkey Trail, Rocky Ridge Road, Clearview Road. Councilman Ray asked if there was a system in place to track road repair requests. Mayor Howard said there was no system in place and have them call city hall.
The city clerk will look into getting a pothole form on the city’s website.
We purchased equipment for road repairs, $70k Truck and Trailer that is not being used. David Parrish said the truck has been used on several water leaks this past year.
David Parrish commented that he has not heard any solutions, just a bunch of headaches. He said all that comes out of your mouth is negativity. He stated that patching is a temporary fix. And he asked the Councilman how long he has been a councilman and asked what he has done for his community since he has been a councilman. He stated that they spent over $270k on repairs in Hunters Crossing. Mayor Howard said he was in the dark on all of this and needed time to catch up.
Councilman Ray said why do we have Department Heads if not to come up with plans.
Councilman Tortorice asked about the status of the job positions that have not been filled. David Parrish said with negativity being posted on social media that nobody wants to come work at this joke. Mayor Howard told him that was enough, but David Parrish continued saying that the Truth is the Truth and that you can’t handle the Truth, Jack. (1:26:59)
Interim Chief Anthony Fields expressed concerns about hiring and acquiring bulletproof vests.
Councilman Tortorice suggested that we appoint a council member to work with the police department to help address their needs. Councilman Ray asked about the Police Officer positions that were not filled.
The Interim Chief stated that we only had one officer on duty. Councilman Ray asked what he needed and he stated that they needed two officers per shift. Councilman Ray asked what about the money side and Interim Chief Fields said $20. Councilman Tortorice suggested again that a City Councilman volunteer to support the Police Department.
Interim Chief Fields stated that they only get one uniform and no bullet proof vest. Councilman Tortorice stated that we purchased vest within the last year.
Interim Chief Fields stated that he just finished an inventory, and they aren’t there. Councilman Ray asked how many he needed.
Interim Chief Fields said he needed cars as well.
Interim Chief Fields said he doesn’t know his future and said something got back to his family and he wanted to know what his future is. Councilman Tortorice brought up that this was addressed previously and was told we needed to wait until we had a Mayor, and now that we have a Mayor, what now.
Mayor Howard asked what the Councils pleasure was. Councilman Tortorice indicated that Erskine said we should go through the entire posting and interview process again.
Councilman Tortorice reminded the council that they should participate in the interview process. Council Crump said he called the candidates. Councilman Tortorice asked what he thought about Richard Bell to which Councilman Crump clarified that he only called the candidates that he recommended.
Councilman Tortorice explained the process how we went through the interviews.
Mayor Howard asked if we wanted to put the job out for bid, Councilman Tortorice said yes, and Mayor Howard said he would get it together and put it out for bid.
Councilman Ray asked Interim Chief Fields if he had recommended that we increase the officers start pay to $20 an hour, and Fields said we could at least move to $18 to attract people and stated that we are recycling people.
Councilman Ray asked for clarification on the officers not having bullet proof vests. Fields stated that he was using the vest that he had at Birmingham and that they only get one uniform. Councilman Ray asked Mayor Howard if Interim Chief Fields could get quotes on additional vests for each officer as he does not want to prevent any officer from having the life saving equipment needed for the job.
Councilman Tortorice brought up that we purchased vests just over a year ago.
Councilman Ray asked about the Uniforms and Mayor Howard requested Interim Chief Fields get a quote on two uniforms ASAP.
Interim Chief Fields asked about the guns that the council approved in early 2021. Mayor Howard said he has no idea what happened. Councilman Tortorice state that Bunky told him that the day after the council voted that Mayor Wilson told him not to order them.
The city clerk will research information on previously purchased bulletproof vests.
The city clerk will research discussions concerning AR-15 rifles.
City Attorney, Erskine Funderburg suggested again that we have councilmember represent each department and it could alleviate the need for such long debates in session. Councilman Ray volunteered to represent the Police. Councilman McIntyre said No, he didn’t want Councilman Ray to do it. Councilman Tortorice asked since he was saying no to councilman Ray, if he was volunteering and he said “yeah, I will”. Councilman McIntyre asked why it involved Councilman Tortorice, stating that he was talking to Isaac.
City Clerk Teja McIntyre found where we approved the vests. Erskine Funderburg stated that if we thought the vests left with employees who left we need to follow up.
David Parrish stated that he would like to add some more truth. He has lived and breathed here for 18 years and all we have is one Dollar General and that our revenue comes from the water and sewer and we better get over it. Councilman Ray replied that we passed over two grocery stores. Mr. Parrish stated that we needed to accept reality.
Mr. Parrish stated that he asked the EDC president himself and that he said the demographics it was never happening.
Erskine asked how many people did we have in the city. Council Tortorice stated a little over 6,000 and approaching 7,000 quickly. Mayor Howard stated that the census said 5,400. Erksine then asked how many people were in each district, and he wanted to know adults, not just registered voters.
Carrie Macon asked why we didn’t have a meeting at the previous meeting. Mayor Howard said he had a previous engagement.
Freddie Parham asked about hiring the new police chief. Stating that he had been pulled over and cussed out, but that was not in Margaret. Stating that we needed to hire someone that we know.
Janice McIntyre asked what service we would be using to live stream the council meetings. Councilman Tortorice stated Facebook Live. She stated that she thought we voted to close the FaceBook account. Councilman Tortorice stated it was in the Motion that FaceBook Live would be used, thus requiring FaceBook.
Janice McIntyre asked Councilman Ray if he was a Councilman or if he was just a citizen that brings complaints to the city. Councilman Ray stated that he was a councilman.
Janice McIntyre stated not to put her name in the minutes.
Councilman Tortorice made a motion that the council get a 2 ½ year history of the employee hours, pay and vacation and then get it going forward so that we can determine what the departments are spending on payroll. Sandra Mac interrupted the Council deliberations asking why we can’t just make the interim chief the full time chief. Mayor Howard said that’s what he thought the pleasure of the council was. The Motion was not continued or asked for a second.
Clyde stated that if the council was taking the interim chief suggestions that we should challenge him to provide a written recommendation.
Clyde stated a deep concern that the interim chief had exposed himself and his family to a viciousness from leadership, and yet say that we don’t think that sacrifice does not warrant immediate consideration for him to made chief.
Clyde stated that he heard observations from a council member and that many of them were spot on. He encourages the council to remember two things. First, you cannot compare Margaret operationally to Homewood or nowhere. He stated that Margaret was considered an underserved impoverished community. Secondly, Margaret was not going to get a plan from the EDC, that they would be a partner and take credit for it after it was done. But the work has got to take place in this city.
Clyde’s last observation is that Margaret is a unique place because in its history it was a self-contained community and as time has moved has found itself in this trouble. He is troubled by the huge opportunity and asked when we would get past that. And asked that we establish a policy about taking questions from the floor, but not to disrespect him. He repeated that Erskine stated that we would not get anywhere until the council wanted to work together.
Councilman James Chapman made a Motion to adjourn. Mayor Pro-Tem Daryl McIntyre seconded the Motion.
The meeting adjourned at 7:56 PM.