Officials freeze discretionary spending in city
by Daniel Gaddy
Jan 21, 2012 | 1961 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CARBON HILL — The Carbon Hill City Council voted on Thursday to freeze all discretionary spending in response to a mass mailout of the Corridor Messenger newspaper to city residents.

Council member Jacqueline Allred said several of her constituents called her concerned that city funds paid for the issues of the weekly newspaper, which is owned by city attorney Ken Guin.

The papers mailed to residents contained a front-page news story covering a meeting of the Carbon Hill Utilities Board.

Guin, who was present at Thursday’s Council meeting, said his newspaper experienced an overrun that left him with extra copies, and he offered them as a gift to the City of Carbon Hill. Guin said he regularly offers extra papers to municipalities and organizations that were covered in the edition.

Mayor Chris Hart said he authorized the use of city funds to mail the newspapers. The postage cost approximately $170, according to City Clerk Kim Sides.

Carbon Hill resident Margie Miles requested to speak at the meeting and asked if the mass mailout was voted on by the City Council.

“That doesn’t go over very well with people standing in line to buy stamps and the city buying a newspaper,” Miles said.

Allred said the Council did not vote to approve the expense, and pointed out that items over $100 require Council approval before purchase.

“I don’t see where mailing out a newspaper was financially intelligent, and I don’t think it should have been done without Council approval,” Allred said.

Hart said though he did not know the exact figure when he decided to purchase the postage, he takes full responsibility, and told Allred “If you want to take my privileges away from being able to do anything, have at it.”

Council member Chris Pschirer asked for the group to enter into executive session under the good name and character statute of Alabama’s open meetings law. The request was approved by a unanimous vote by the Council.

When the Council returned, they voted to freeze all spending except for the city’s day-to-day bills. The measure passed with Council member James Johnson casting the only no vote.

In other business:

•Carbon Hill Police Chief Health Allred announced that he will be looking into leash laws to combat the problem of dogs running free throughout the city.

“I know dogs are a hot topic, so lets not spend four weeks talking about it,” Chief Allred said.

•Council member Scott Wright resigned as a member of the Carbon Hill Utilities Board.

•The Council tabled a vote to purchase a new electronic filing system for the City of Carbon Hill at a cost of $4,185. The vote was postponed to allow city officials to check the prices of other vendors.

•The Council voted to purchase a sign near Carbon Hill High School to alert motorists that the use of cell phones is prohibited while driving near the campus.

•The Council voted to allow each council member to have access to view every bank account associated with the City of Carbon Hill. The measure, however, did not give all of the members authority to take funds from the accounts.

•The Council tabled a vote to purchase six hand-held radios for the police department at a cost of $1,575. The vote was postponed to allow councilors and Chief Allred to search for possible grants for the items.

•The Council approved a proclamation celebrating the City of Carbon Hill’s 125th anniversary.

•Chief Allred announced a clarification about a forum he will have with local businesses. He said the meeting is open to the public rather than just for business owners. The meeting will allow business owners and police officers to discuss issues and concerns regarding public safety, he said. The forum will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 9 in the Carbon Hill Community Center.