Thursday, December 15, 2011
Board overrides mayor’s veto
By SUE WATSON
The Holly Springs Board of Aldermen upheld a recommendation by public works director Micheal Crittle to secure GCA Service Group in Hernando to provide house janitorial services for five city buildings.
The board overrode Mayor Andre’ DeBerry’s veto 5-0 on a motion by alderman Russell Johnson. If the mayor’s veto had been sustained, the annual cleaning contract would have gone back to the prior service provider, Miracle Workers Cleaning Services of Memphis, Tenn.
Some members of the board of aldermen had expressed dissatisfaction at the manner in which the service contracts had been handled and the quality of service over the last year.
So this year the board decided to bid the service on all five buildings in one contract – Holly Springs Utility Department, the police department, information technology, city hall and the multi-purpose building.
Crittle used a point system to rate each of three bidders who provided quotes. Low bidder was Miracle Workers Cleaning Service at $46,800 a year and GCA Service Group bid $47,086 a year. Mr. Janitor Inc., of Tupelo was the highest bidder.
The board moved on to discuss hiring of a police chief with only two top candidates left after a third finalist withdrew his application. The board interviewed eight candidates in a field of about 15 applications, the mayor said.
Alderman Harvey Payne motioned to hire a veteran police officer from the Memphis area recommended by Mayor DeBerry as his top choice. The candidate has supervisory experience and is also a minister. Alderman Calvin James provided a second, but the motion failed with a 2-3 vote.
Alderman Johnson expressed dissatisfaction, saying the motion was brought to the floor without his having had an opportunity to review the notes he had taken on the candidates during interviews a month or so back. The other candidate in the top tier has served as chief of police in two small police departments, the mayor said, and is also highly qualified.
The mayor, in statements before the motion failed, laid out what he thinks the city should be looking for in a police chief.
The city needs a chief who can bring stability and discipline to the department, he said. Areas the police department could benefit from strong improvement include the investigative department, community policing, and mutual cooperation with other law enforcement agencies in investigations, DeBerry said.
He said morale needs improving as well as interfacing of the police with the community in community building and to improve public relations.
Retention of personnel has been a long-standing weakness of the department and a strong chief of police will have to come to terms with the problem of turnover, the mayor said.
Lastly, DeBerry said the prospective chief should have strong communicative skills and the ability to construct and articulate a vision for the city.
In another matter, the board discussed approving bills and claims but was asked by alderman Johnnie Ree Bagley-Johnson to hold off on approving a contract with W.T. Consultants in Jackson for $4,000 a month for the year 2012.
Bagley-Johnson said she would like to see the lobbyist report in person to the board more often, such as on a monthly basis, so the board of aldermen can hear what services it is getting for the money.
She mentioned that the county board of supervisors hears monthly from its lobbyist and also receives regular input and reports from the local delegation.
Bagley-Johnson said she never has seen a representative from W.T. Consultants.
“If we are spending $4,000 a month, he should have the decency to come see us,” she said. “I’m saying we pay this consultant $4,000 a month and you say representatives and senators are not looking out for us in Jackson.”
DeBerry defended the lobbyist, saying he knows all the persons on important committees in Jackson and has his ear to the ground year-round for the city, while elected representatives and the senator spend only about three months of the year in the capitol.
Payne then motioned to table the hiring of W.T. Consultants until the December 14 meeting and the motion passed.
Lee Richmond, community development director, urged the mayor and board to develop a list of projects related to the water park proposal and development in the area below the old Power House. It is a proposal the mayor has laid out to begin work using about $340,000 in unused money in the Memphis Street and Martin Street redevelopment projects. The money must be obligated for projects before July 12, 2012, Richmond said.
The mayor urged the board to approve the concept of a water park project and other works in the area of Spring Hollow Park in time for application to the funding agency to keep the money for new uses. Otherwise, the money will revert back to the agency. Discussion completed, the board approved the concept to move forward on the project and submit a list of suitable projects to the agency.
The board also approved Guardian Insurance as a provider of individual dental, vision and volunteer life insurance to city employees.
The board also discussed a review of the health insurance policy and possibly put the insurance out for quotes. If the board deems fit, it could renew its insurance with Craft and Wynne Insurance Agency.
The mayor suggested putting the insurance out for bids since the city pays so much for employee group health coverage.
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