The Alba City Council set an order for a general election to elect three aldermen during their regular February meeting last Monday.
Dianne Haisten and Lindy McCarty were named as election clerks and Melba Kelly as election judge. The three seats open are Tammy Kirkpatrick, Jonathan Mize and Larry Jones. Kirkpatrick has already filed to run for re-election. Jones has picked up the necessary paperwork, but has yet to file. Newcomer Robert Kraemer has also filed. The deadline for filing is this Friday at 5 p.m. Mize has not filed for re-election as of Monday morning.
The council decided to change the way they handle council meetings when it comes to consent agenda items. “We attended a Quitman City Council meeting and they had these specific items under the consent agenda. Those items consist of items that are up for approval or denial every month, like the minutes of the previous meeting, the financials and the department reports,” City Secretary McCarty said. “In an effort to move along a little faster, we decided to try it. We can approve all of that with one motion.” A motion was made to approve the consent agenda and the change was approved unanimously.
In another action, the council approved for McCarty to proceed with the development of online payments for the utility department and municipal court. The company facilitating the process, Heartland, will receive four percent of the payment. There is no cost to the city for the service. “This is basically a convenience for the customer. There will be a link online for water and sewer payments,” McCarty said. “Bright Star uses this system and they are very pleased with it. I get a lot of inquiries about paying online. I think people like the convenience of doing it online.”
In another matter, the council approved RV park specifications presented by Michael Willey.
The citizen comments portion of the meeting was moved to the last agenda item. Former mayor, Ted Levitt, addressed the council. “I’m not surprised the city council has decided to try and stifle citizens’ ability to express negative opinions, to expose your incompetence and your determination to do as you please in violation of federal and state laws, city ordinances, policies and procedures by cutting the time a citizen can speak during the public comments section from five minutes to three,” Levitt stated. “For over 30 years, five minutes has been the acceptable time limit in the city. Now, you feel the need to change that. When this council was seated a year ago, I tried politely to show you what you were doing wrong in an effort for you to spend the time and energy necessary to your job correctly. That didn’t work. I tried to embarrass you into doing the job and that didn’t work.
“Now you are trying to shut me up by limiting the time a citizen gets to speak at a council meeting I have stayed off social media up till now to keep from embarrassing you and the city, but after what you are doing tonight, I am determined to expose everything and anything I feel you have done wrong on social media. I will now start writing letters to the Rains County Leader, Wood County Monitor and the Tyler paper. Instead of listening to what I and others citizens have to say as constructive criticism, you have decided to do what you have done tonight which is to try and stifle public comment. Shame on you.”