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Tension in the air at Chester City Council meeting

 
By Don Berry
Contributing Writer
updated: 7/13/2022 8:34 AM

There was tension in the air when the Chester City Council convened Tuesday, July 5.

After Mayor Tom Page opened the meeting, he spoke about his responsibilities as mayor. He wanted to remind everyone that, as stated in one of the ordinances, as mayor he is the CEO of Chester and has direct supervision of all aldermen. This led to a later discussion with Alderman Bryce Hill over the manner in which department heads report to the council.

Hill rescinded a discipline complaint against the code enforcement officer, saying he had talked with him and issues had been resolved for the time being. Alderman Ray Allison then asked why the department heads were not told to attend the first meeting of the month, saying they can show up when they want the city to buy them something but don't bother to come any other time. Allison said they should be here to answer any questions and tell us about any problems in their departments.

Page answered by saying he meets with all them at the beginning of the month, adding it is an open meeting and the council is welcome to attend. Hill spoke again that he felt discipline was needed when monthly reports are not filed. This was his issue with the code enforcement officer when Hill asked him about not filing reports and why he initially sought disciplinary action against him.

Page repeated that as mayor all the department heads ultimately report to him. They answer to him and problems have risen in the past when aldermen attempt to direct or boss city employees.

Page said he was going to stop all the written reports because they are usually the same each month and not that informative, instead relying on face-to-face meetings.

Hill and Allison objected, saying that not every council member can attend during the day, that three of them were not retired and had to work. Hill read an ordinance that states an alderman may request reports for the various committees they chair but added that he did realize that employees answer only to the mayor and he has direct supervision and assigns their duties.

The discussion ended with the council moving on to the business on the agenda.

Appropriations

Attorney Jeff Kerkhover had presented the Appropriations Ordinance at a public meeting earlier in the evening, and with no changes suggested and no public comment, the Council approved the proposal for the amount of $24,143,321. Kerkhover said this is the amount the city is authorized to spend, but the budget will be less than this. It is simply a guide for the spending for the coming year.

Motorized bicycles

Hill suggested the council look at creating an ordinance concerning motorized bicycles in the city. Hill said he has received several complaints about them, and after talking with police Chief Bobby Helmers, he found that some tickets have been issued.

Hill would like to see the city require all motorized bikes to be inspected by the police department and the owners required to purchase a permit as UTV owners must do. He said owners need to be reminded that they must obey all traffic laws and may not be on sidewalks or weave through traffic.

Other action

• Approval was given to purchase new capping for the fences at Cohen Fields 1 and 2. This protects individuals watching the games from leaning on the sharp points of the chain-link fence. They also approved purchase of metal roofs to be installed over the bleachers at Cohen Fields 3, 4 and 5. The structure will be constructed of 14 gauge galvanized steel and give shade to spectators from the sun.

• Police Chief Helmers reported he received a resignation from full time Officer Golding and asked the council to declare a vacancy to be filled in his department. The Council gave its approval.

• A review was performed of previous executive sessions and it was determined they should remained closed. Verbatim records of closed sessions were also reviewed and it was determined they should be destroyed.

The next meeting of the city council is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 18.