Wayne Roberts approached the council with a list of conerns he had about the city government. Many of the concerns stemmed from rumors or unnamed sources around the city.
The first concern was a truck and lawnmower purchased from Robert Busby, who Roberts believed was a city employee. Mayor Petey Ellis and City Clerk Judy Glover said that Busby was not an employee of the city of Sumiton.
Roberts’ second concern was the purchase of three police-package Tahoes made by the police department, although he never stated a reason for his concern on the purchase. Ellis told him the city purchased the three vehicles from the city of Vestavia Hills for $11,000 each.
Ellis also said the council voted to approve the purchase, which is approximately one-third the cost of the same car new.
Roberts was also concerned about the fact that Ellis repaired a city police car damaged late last summer in a collision with a deer. At that time, the city council unanimously approved using Ellis to repair the car rather than sending the business and money outside the city. The council asked the Alabama Ethics Commission at the time if there was a conflict of interest and they were told that there was not if Ellis was the only repair shop in the city or if his estimate was the lowest.
Another concern was the fact that Roberts said the city purchased a car for a city employee named “Mr. Sewer.” Roberts also said the city was paying “Mr. Sewer” $50,000 a year. Ellis eventually determined he was referring to Tim DeVito, the department head who oversees the city’s water, sewer and gas. Ellis informed Roberts that virtually every water, sewer and/or gas department in the county provides a vehicle for their department head.
Roberts’ final concern dealt with the rumors and allegations surrounding the purchase of property on Main Street in Sumiton, called the “Tucker Property” within the meeting.
The council agreed to allow Ellis to negotiate for the purchase of the property in a January meeting and revisited the issue later in the spring. At the last meeting, Ellis presented the council with three sets of minutes from meetings where the purchase was discussed.
Roberts also expressed concern for the state of the Tucker property on Main Street, saying that there were old fuel tanks in the ground that posed a health risk to the city and asking who would be responsible for the cleanup. Ellis said he was not aware of any such hazards involved or why they would be a concern now, since the tanks had been there for some time. Roberts did not cite a source for the environmental concerns.
Roberts conceded that he may have been misquoted or misinformed on some items of concern, saying he had not attended the council meetings previously or read the minutes from those meetings.
He also expressed concern that someone outside the city was moving garbage inside the city limits in order to have it picked up by the city for free. When pressed by the mayor and council to name the individual who Roberts said “laughed about it,” he declined to name the person.
“We thank you for pointing that out and we appreciate your interest in our city government,” Ellis said.
In other business:
•Another resident addressed the council about a city ditch on his property that needs to be cleaned out, saying his wife was very ill and couldn’t even sit outside because of the mosquitos. Ellis apologized and said the city would clean the ditch, the crews had been busy.
•The city was notified that its health insurance costs would be reduced by approximately $100 for family coverage and $22 for individual coverage.
This decrease is due to the city regaining a preferred status after medical expenses decreased.