By C.V. Moore
The Town of Fayetteville passed a new ordinance clarifying protocol for purchases and expenditures after its mayor came under fire for ordering a $5,990 paving project without the approval of council.
“Council approved the paving not once but twice and then a decision was made that something else was added to the tune of almost $6,000. I have a problem with that,” said council member Sharon Cruikshank.
Town Manager Bill Lanham said that Mayor Jim Akers called him and told him to pave all of Phillips Street, according to minutes from the town’s June council meeting. Council had approved it to be paved to the Board of Education building only.
Akers admitted that he “took it upon himself” to approve the paving. A citizen on the street reportedly called him to complain that the street had only been partially paved. Lanham says streets are intentionally paved partially if the entire street doesn’t need repair, in order to get the most “bang for the buck.”
“I did it because we had a paving crew there and four people on that street that didn’t benefit from that paving,” said Akers. “I did it because we went up there and they were ready to pull off. Once they pull off they were headed to Tank Hill. When you have to put the machine back it’s another expense to finish paving that street.”
“If I was wrong I was wrong, but I made the decision,” said Akers.
Council members said that he should have come before council for approval.
“Right now I don’t have trust that what we vote on is going to be upheld. If what we vote on here doesn’t mean a thing then we might as well stop right now. I want a guarantee, something in place that protects the votes and policies of this town,” said Cruikshank.
Town Recorder Zenda Vance said some townspeople were upset “because they felt like it’s who lived there was the reason that the street was paved.”
At the last meeting the council voted to put a freeze on any spending over $500 without the approval of council. But on Tuesday night they changed their course. Now, council must approve any expenditure that is not on the approved budget.
Cruikshank also asked Lanham to promise that Pierce Street would be the first street paved the next time paving trucks are brought into town. It was scheduled to be paved in June but the work wasn’t performed.
Pick-up procedures at Fayetteville Elementary are interfering with local businesses, says Steve Slockett of New River Antiques.
He says that between 2:30 and 3:30 each day when school is in session, his parking lot is completely blocked by the vehicles of parents picking their kids up from school.
He says the problem is affecting his business, but also United Bank, the post office, and residents driving through town.
“For the last 35 years we’ve had a pickup schedule at Fayetteville Elementary that met town needs.
“(Now) Maple Avenue becomes a one-way street. It’s causing people to lose their tempers. It’s not good for the town and it’s not good for business and we’re asking for your help.”
The mayor and council agreed that it creates a lot of problems and agreed to set up a meeting with county board of education personnel to address the situation.
The town’s accountant reports that Fayetteville will roll over $89,000 in its budget this year.
“It looks like you have done an excellent job controlling your costs,” said David Hatten.
Revenues were down $16,852, due mainly to a $26,000 decrease in property taxes. B&O tax was down $16,000 because construction was down.
These losses were offset by a $22,000 grant for playground equipment and savings in police department automobile maintenance and fire department calls.
Three new parking spaces in front of the old Falls Exxon property were approved, contingent upon available space. Town council also granted a request by Fayetteville Physical Therapy for two patient unloading spaces and one additional handicap parking space in front of their business on Court Street.
Janutolo Park will soon have a gazebo installed by Priddy’s Buildings through grant funds received by the Town of Fayetteville.
The council voted to start the bidding process for a new roof for the old Fayetteville High School building, which the town is slowly restoring.
They also approved a $2,500 contribution to Mountain Transit Authority, provider of public bus service in Fayette County.