Clinton Council wants to know how Community Action spent its money

It’s like the gifts that keep giving.

Clinton City Council on Monday learned about weather delays on various road projects and the latest in a lawsuit stemming from the 2018 Clinton City election.

February’s Clinton City Council meeting was called to order by Vice Mayor Zack Farrar on a blustery, rainy evening. Mayor Scott Burton was away on business.

Spirits were not dampened by the steady rain as Farrar led those present through the opening exercises and the approval of the agenda.

Farrar, Councilmen Larry Gann, Jim McBride and E.T. Stamey were present at the meeting, with Councilmen Brian Hatmaker and Rob Herrell away on business.

Other officials present at the meetng were Police Chief Vaughn Becker, Fire Chief Archie Brummit, Human Resources Manager Angela Sylvester, City Manager Roger Houck, Finance Director Gail Cook, Codes Enforcement Building Inspector John Householder, Chief of Staff Bill Riggs, Officer Bob Suarez and City Clerk Gina Ridenour.

Reports from each department began with Scott Ray, city school finance officer, representing the Clinton City School System. He gave information about two capital projects: a parking lot behind Clinton Elementary School to be completed in March and an addition being made to a Clinton Elementary School building scheduled to be started by Spring Break this year.

“The Police and Fire basketball game went well,” he said. “Everyone had a great time.” The event was a fundraiser for the schools.

Ray also said,” The Faculty-Student Basketball game will be held [Tueday] at 6 the Clinton Elementary School gym.”

Councilman Gann spoke next with some discussion and explanation about the Appeals and Zoning Board Meeting of Feb. 10.

“A rear setback was requested by the owner of the property at Shaw Street and High Street in South Clinton due to difficulties that arose when South Clinton was annexed,” he said.

“Property lines were already established and lots were smaller than needed,” Gann said.

“We recommended approval for this request so the property owner can build a new house that meets city building requirements.”

On another issue, Gann said a parking variance had been requested for My Stash Storage at 712 Charles Seivers Blvd. for the indoor storage facility.

“The owner wants to expand his facility,” said Gann. “Adding more parking spaces to the back side of his lot will not affect the flow of traffic, so we voted to approve.”

Gann also reported that there was approval to final plats requested.

“The M-1 new warehouse facility meets all requirements for the purpose of industrial storage,” he said.

The next meeting of the Appeals Board and the Planning Commission will be March 2, instead of March 9, he said.

Gann was asked a question about the improvements under construction on Interstate 75 Exit 122 and the Clinton Highway Bridge. “We are on hold because of weather,” he said. “Materials and supplies are on hand and ready for installation when the rain and/or snow stops.”

Gann added that there are plans underway for an expansion of Edgemoor Road in Claxton.

“This is not in the city, but it affects many residents who work in Oak Ridge,” he said. “This is still in the planning stage. More details will be forthcoming soon.”

Gann completed his report by reminding everyone that February is Black History Month and area schools and organizations are celebrating in various ways.

Finance Director Gail Cook reported that city tax collections were down compared with the county’s. She is investigating to learn exactly why.

“Things were up for December, but we expect that to happen during the Christmas season,” she said. “We are told that internet sales are accounting for more and more of our gains. This is expected to continue to increase.

“Although we saw a dip, our school system gained $40,000 in 2019,” she said. “Revenues are up by 5-percent for the year, so we are OK.”

Councilman Stamey asked if the school system and city government are on track to meet projections.

“Yes.” Cook said.

A question on the status of the Election Commission’s lawsuit was directed to Houck.

“The case is in the Appeals Court,” he said. “We are required to pay attorneys’ fees and have paid $30,535 so far.

“Since it is not over, we may have more fees to pay, but there is no way to know how much at this point.”

When Farrar asked if there were more questions, Councilman McBride asked, “What happened to money the city donated to CAC (Community Action Committee)? How do we find out?”

Cook replied that there had been some confusion as to who was CAC’s point person. “We have attempted to communicate,” she said.

“I saw an ad for CAC in the Courier newspaper,” McBride said. “How are they spending the money we gave them?”

It was suggested that the money may have been used for daily operations.

“We should have made specifications as to how our donation was to be spent,” McBride said.

“That donation may have been a mistake,” he said. “Lesson learned.” Cook and others nodded in agreement.

Next, Farrar asked, “When will there be an update on the remodeling for the football field owned by the city?”

The answer came from Houck: “I talked to the coach this week. There is a meeting scheduled for tomorrow to discuss the latest on this issue.”

When the meeting turned to new business, ayor Farrar held up a copy of The Courier News and said he wanted to praise the staffs and leaders of all city departments.

“These fine folks do an exceptional job,” he said.

“I want to especially thank the Clinton City Police Department, Drug Task Force Officer, Bob Suarez, who is present here tonight and well-known for his work, and the chief for their work we read about here,” referring to an article in the newspaper.

“They were able to remove 11 millions pills from our streets,” he said.

There was applause from those in attendance.