Applause for her challenge
A resident of Clinton challenged all candidates in the March 5 nonpartisan municipal elections for mayor and three council members to “run a clean race – a race your mother and your grandmother would be proud of.”
Susan Galloway, speaking during the public comment portion of Monday night’s city council meeting, said the election process is teaching a civics lesson to every student in Laurens County.
She urged the candidates, including all four incumbents, to teach the students “it is possible to disagree and still remain friends.”
Mayor Bob McLean and city council members Shirley Jenkins and Jimmy Young are being challenged for re-election. Council member Gary Kuykendall is unopposed.
“I expect every person will say they want what’s best for Clinton,” Galloway said. “We will go further when we go together.”
Her comments received applause from those in the packed council chambers for the monthly meeting.
In business, council received and accepted the city’s audit from the 2018 fiscal year and learned the city has once again received (for the 29th year) the Certificate of Achievement for Financial Reporting Award.
The audit shows Clinton has a fund balance of $9.4 million – all but $2.2 million is in a fund restricted for tourism promotion because the money is received from hospitality and accommodation taxes.
The unassigned fund balance is roughly 4.5 months of operating expenditures. CPA Sheryl Medders, who presented the report to council representing the accounting firm of McKinley, Cooper, said it would be better if the city had six months of operating expenditures.
“But you continue to improve in that area,” she said. “Ten years ago, you had zero.”
Medders said the increasing fund balance shows the city is budgeting well and spending according to budget. She also said the city’s net position has increased every year in the past decade except for a few years when the city had to make changes in its financial reporting of unfunded liabilities. “You’re going in the right direction,” she said.
City Manager Bill Ed Cannon said a public forum concerning the city’s planned recreation complex on Hwy. 56 North will be held on the property on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 3 p.m.
The public is invited to review preliminary plans and to offer comments and suggestions, Cannon said. He said the Clinton YMCA has agreed to be involved in the project and will be represented at the meeting, along with “the design people.”
Cannon has used a Kentucky engineering firm to provide conceptual plans. He said the company will need precise instructions before they can develop a master plan for the complex. “We have to tell them what we want,” he said.
He later said it would be March, April or May before any dirt is moved on the project, which will be guided by “where our resources let us go.”
The city manager said the complex will contain approximately 155-160 acres. “This is truly for the people of Clinton. This is very important to us. When I interviewed (for the city manager’s job), y’all were very passionate about that.”
Council member Danny Cook asked Cannon to also schedule a second meeting in the evening or on the weekend since not everyone will be able to attend a mid-afternoon meeting.
In a related move, council gave first reading approval to provide a 20’ easement to property owner Monte Dutton. The city closed Monday afternoon on the purchase of approximately 69 acres that were purchased from Dutton for the recreation complex.
Cannon said the survey revealed that Dutton would be cut off from access to another piece of property he owns that has a tower on it. He said Dutton asked for the easement so that he could get to the other land.
“We owe it to Monte,” he said, adding the second reading would not be given until the final plans are developed because the easement might have to be moved.
Council member Jenkins complained that the item was added to the agenda at the meeting, which required a two-thirds majority vote. “I don’t like last minute amendments,” she said.
Cannon said the problem didn’t arise until about 3 p.m. Monday.
The vote to amend the agenda to consider the easement was unanimous.
(More from the Jan. 7 council meeting, including names of Christmas parade and decorating award winners will be in the Jan. 16 Chronicle.)