By Terry Schrimscher
SPRINGVILLE — The mood quickly changed during the March 1, 2021 meeting of the Springville City Council, after Mayor Dave Thomas called for a voice vote to adjourn and left the chamber roughly 14 minutes into the session.
“Next would be the resolution to engage legal counsel,” said Thomas. “There’s been no discussion. This is somewhat of a blindside. I have no idea what’s going on. So, with that I am going to move that we adjourn,” he said. “Mr. Parker seconds. All those in favor vote aye. ‘Aye.’ Those opposed, no. The ayes have it. We’re adjourned.”
At issue was a resolution proposed by members of the council to split the legal representation into three separate parts with the council rehiring former City Attorney James Hill and moving current City Attorney Charlie Waldrep to a specific role representing the Mayor and some city agencies. The proposal makes no changes to the current representation for city courts.
Members of the council remained in the session, consulting with Waldrep on the legality of taking any further action in the Mayor’s absence.
“I’m not saying it is going to be a legitimate vote,” said Waldrep. “If the Mayor pro-tem wants to take over and you’ve got a quorum still here. Y’all can conduct whatever business you want to do. Whether or not that can be contested, I don’t know.”
Waldrep spoke to the council about their concerns and offered to change his fee structure to a flat rate, rather than an hourly rate. He also expressed his desire to remain in the city working with the courts.
The council continued with Councilor Wayne Tucker presiding in his role as Mayor pro tempore. The council approved the resolution making the change to the city’s legal representation.
“What we just did, whether it’s legal not I don’t really know,” said Tucker. “I don’t know if any of us do but it was the wishes of this council.
He then proposed getting an opinion on the legitimacy of the session from the Alabama League of Municipalities. Tucker moved to adjourn the session.
Speaking to The Trussville Tribune later in the evening, Mayor Thomas said he followed the process outlined in Robert’s Rules of Order and he was confident the League of Municipalities would confirm that any actions taken after he left were invalid.
“We have a breakdown in communication,” said Thomas. “I have an open door and want to talk, but there was not talking.”
Thomas said the resolution directly impacts the legal representation of the city and said the way it was presented was “unacceptable.” He said he hopes the council will take it up in the next work session where it can be properly discussed.
In the minutes prior to the abrupt ending, the council approved several pieces of city business including approval of the 2020-2021 water and sewer budget and financing for a new fire truck.
The council also approved $125 per month to lease a new copier/printer/fax machine for the police department and approved a $5000 signing bonus to hire a new firefighter/paramedic for the city. The bonus would pay a new firefighter $2500 at hiring and $1250 at the first and second anniversary of employment.
The council also approve a contract for $68,800 for the second phase of the sewer project serving the residents of the Archer’s Cove community and approved $42.44 per month to Alabama Power for four new LED lights on Walker Drive.