Cleveland rehires Owens, requests state audit

In omnibus town meeting

In a split decision following a lengthy executive session, the Cleveland Town Council voted Jan. 26 to rehire former employee Wayne Owens, dismissed last year from his job in the town water and sewer department, to the full-time position of superintendent of the street and park department.

The action was to be effective immediately, contingent upon Owens’s signing a release agreeing to drop his lawsuit against the town in connection with his earlier termination. The motion by Mike Evans to rehire Owens was passed 3 to 2, with council members Evans, Kandy Little and David Grigsby in favor and council members Doug Hill and Glenn Puckett opposed. Owens has since signed the release.

State audit requested

Council member Evans moved to request an audit of the town’s financial records as well as those of the Cleveland Volunteer Fire Department. According to the motion, the audit would be requested in a letter from Cleveland Mayor Larry Longshore to the state examiner of public accounts.

The motion passed 3-2 with the same members voting yea and nay as on the Owens motion. Before his motion, Evans said he decided the town should request a detailed audit after reviewing results from its routine annual audit conducted by Criswell and Associates. Evans said he believes the state audit would be provided free of charge if the state agency agrees to conduct it.

Wage, salary, benefits ordinance passed

Mayor Larry Longshore presented a proposed comprehensive ordinance designating wages, salaries and other benefits of employees of the town of Cleveland. Mike Evans read the ordinance aloud.

The ordinance published wages and salaries of all town employees, effective with the payroll of Jan. 29, 2009. It also designated hours of work and specified overtime policy. Other provisions dealt with weekly pay periods, mileage payment, and benefits for full-time employees. It also specified the mayor’s powers of general supervision. The ordinance set aside all previous ordinances of the council dealing with wages, salaries and related terms of employment.

Minor changes were discussed to make the ordinance consistent with state requirements for merit employees, and an additional Code of Alabama reference was recommended by town attorney Stan Glasscock. Following discussion, Evans moved to adopt the ordinance with agreed-upon changes, and the motion was passed by unanimous vote.

In other matters, the council:

•approved a motion by Mike Evans to send town clerk Debra Millwood to a three-day clerk certification school conducted by the University of Alabama at a cost of $560 plus round-trip mileage and three days’ pay; the motion passed unanimously.

•approved unanimously council member Little’s request to review all water department invoices and to monitor the department’s revenues and expenses; Little is the council member with assigned oversight responsibility for the water department.

•discussed filling six positions on the park and recreation board; mayor Longshore suggested it should be handled by council members Hill and Puckett, who agreed.

•appointed interim police chief Leslie Moore to become permanent part-time police chief, by unanimous vote.

•voted to hire DeAnn Washburn as temporary concession stand worker, under the supervision of the town clerk.

•received a list of questions from Teresa Grigsby, who said she expected all the questions to be answered by the council and that more questions would be forthcoming.

•heard questions from former mayor James Sullivan questioning how the town justifies replacing full-time police officers with part time officers; also questioning the creation of a street and park job when the town has never had that job previously.

Council member Grigsby told Sullivan that the town is not obligated to provide its own law enforcement at all, but could elect law enforcement coverage from the sheriff’s department; Grigsby also said the town can save money with parttime employees because the town does not have to pay benefits.