The Alexander City Council called a special meeting late Friday and discussed at length about three items, but one item was tabled and another was dropped.
Mayor Paul Mitchell informed the council that Saline County District Judge Curtis Rickard requested the council to vote on a resolution that would authorize him to hire a court clerk. Rickard also requested the council set the salary for the court clerk position, which Mitchell said had been advertised recently at $9 an hour.
Mitchell explained that Rickard reviewed 14 resumes for the position and then asked the Alexander mayor to interview and recommend 10 of the applicants. Mitchell said he recommended Christy Miller, who has a lengthy history of experience working with district court judges in Central Arkansas.
Miller told the council that she had viewed the court records at Alexander City Hall and found all the records are in disarray.
"What I found in one day â€¦ not all the reports are labeled correctly and if an audit is made today, they wouldn't be able to find specific people. I hope they don't have an audit today," she said. "The files are suppose to be filed by case number, and there are many without case file numbers. In all my 10 years, I've never seen a court have files that I can't find."
She added, "But, I want to see positive change and attention for Alexander."
Miller said she is expecting help from other court clerks in the area to help "clean up the mess."
Alderman Harvey Howard then made a comment that "I travel all over Arkansas and speak to various court clerks and judges, and guys, let me tell you, I'm almost ashamed to even tell them I'm from Alexander because we are a laughing stock right now."
After a lengthy discussion, Howard motioned to table the vote to the next regular city council meeting to make changes to the resolution. The council approved the motion with seven votes; Alderman Patty Hammil was absent.
The council was then expected to vote on reviewing the resume of Kirstin Daniels, but it was quickly pulled due to several alderman deciding "not to get involved in the hire." Howard explained that it isn't the person, but rather the alderman should seek more council from the Arkansas Municipal League on all hirings and firings.
The third item on the agenda was a request by Mark Hayes, general counsel for the Arkansas Municipal League, that, "Juanita Wilson should not at any point in time be referred to as City of Alexander budget chairperson or chairman of the budget committee. Hayes also reportedly requested that the alderman be the ones to "be the budget committee because they control all the monies of the city, and that Juanita Wilson should make Freedom Of Information Act requests for any and all financial records." However, Mitchell explained that Alexander has used a budget committee for six years "with no problems" and that he would like the budget committee personnel remain as volunteers â€” including Wilson â€” and at least one city alderman.
"(The budget committee) functions and functions well," Mitchell said. "I think the budget committee, the way it is now, makes it a lot easier on the council."
The mayor said Hayes did not know about how the budget committee was structured until he made a guest appearance at the previous council meeting in August. Numerous alderman said they did not want to get involved with the budget committee, but "will if we have to." Aldermen Andy Mullins and Farren Wadley both serve on the budget committee. The mayor said by Dec. 1, the budget committee will present a final budget to the council for approval.
During the conversation, Wadley and the mayor had words after Wadley suggested that only the council work on a budget. Mitchell then accused Wadley of contacting Hayes because Wadley believed he was purposely not notified of a budget committee.
"That was absurd for you to call Mark Hayes," Mitchell said.
Wilson later told Wadley that "I didn't call everyone to let them know of the meeting. That is not my job, but there were signs posted all over town." Wadley at one point said that he didn't feel welcome by the budget committee personnel, and said he didn't want to work with Wilson. However, he later decided to remain on the budget committee. Mitchell also later said that he would take measures to ensure that Wadley would be notified of all the budget committee meetings.
The mayor also told the council that the budget committee merely makes a budget proposal and then presents it to the council. He emphasized that council "has the final say."
The present council members then unanimously voted in favor of keeping the budget committee personnel intact.