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Idea of reducing civic center director’s salary causes uproar at meeting

SALARIES – County Commissioner Joey Darnall pleads with county commissioners to not take away $15,000 from the civic center’s director’s job. Commissioners let the salaries of the civic center director stand at $50,107 and the airport manager’s job stay at $43,758. The resolution failed in a 10-7 vote that allowed the salaries to remain as is.

A resolution that would have amended the general fund by decreasing the civic center director’s annual salary by $15,000 and increasing the airport manager’s yearly salary by that amount drew much discussion before it failed 10-7 at the Jan. 9 County Legislative meeting. Commissioner Barry Mac Murphy the motion.

As it stands now, the airport manager will make an annual salary of $43,758 and the civic center’s salary for a year will be $50,107.

Several commissioners gave their pro and con opinions on the matter before it was settled in a vote.

Commissioner Barry Mac Murphy said the two items concerning the salaries should have been in two different resolutions.

“It should be sent back to the Resolutions Committee and deferred to the next meeting,” said Murphy.

Commissioner Joey Darnall spoke on why he was opposed to the resolution.

“This is a service we render to the people through the civic center,” he said. “We don’t make money from it. It’s a service to the community.”  The county draws funds from property taxes.

Fourteen people have applied for the civic center director’s job, it was noted.

Darnall urged fellow commissioners to vote no on the resolution.

“What is $15,000 in order to say thank you to the people,” he said. “

Darnall called for a decision to be made at the meeting and to vote the resolution down.

“Do not vote yes on this resolution,” he urged.

Murphy’s first motion to defer the resolution until the next meeting failed by a vote of 11 to 6.

Then Murphy ask that the matter be sent back to the respective committees so the salaries could be split.

However, County Mayor Joseph Butler said the rules would have to be suspended to entertain that motion.

Murphy motioned that the original resolution be voted on which Darnall urged each one to think about it because the civic center is something to be proud of and if the salary is lowered the wrong person could get to be the director.

“It’s something I don’t want to see fade away,” he said.

However, commissioner Manuel Crossno who is on both the budget and personnel committees said the applicants for the civic center director were willing to take the job at lesser pay for the sake of Carroll County.

Tommy Swor is now serving as the airport manager and at some point will retire, Butler said. 

Present civic center director Ben Canovan will serve until someone is hired.

Lana Suite, who is a member of the Budget Committee, mentioned that the airport manager’s should be paid more because of the skill required for the airport position.

The County Board of Education’s 72-78 employees will receive some over $500 bonuses each from $40,000 in ARPA funds. Part time employees will receive the funds as well as bus drivers through the resolution that passed 15 to 2.

The county mayor reminded commissioners that several months ago $500 bonuses were given to each county employee but board of education employees did receive any.

Through a resolution that passed, the county will contract with the Dept. of Transportation for four tenths of a mile of construction on an industrial access road in the McKenzie Industrial Park near the Carroll County Airport on Rochelle Store Road. This is a $2,410,000 project that will cost the county nothing. VP Racing Fuels plans to expand their operations in an existing building there that was formerly the Nestaway building. 

The scope of the work is to widen for acceleration lane/right turn and offset left turn lanes.

“It has become a dangerous location,” said Butler.

The Carroll County courthouse will get a new roof by using ARPA funds. At the September meeting a bid of $171,215 was awarded for the roof construction. 

At that time $130,000 ARPA funds were pledged for the job. At the meeting, $50,000 more in ARPA funds were designated for the project. Besides the roof, the resolution says that more repairs are needed such as to the stone exterior, windows, and panels, and other possible repairs. 

During the Citizen’s Forum at the beginning of the meeting, Jan Ostiguy spoke on two of the resolutions that she felt should be rejected by commissioners. One was in regard to resolution 6 that authorized a bonus to Carroll County Board of Education employees  through the American Rescue Plan Act  (ARPA)Funds and the other one was the resolution to amend the General Fund Budget to decrease the salary of the Civic Center director by $15,000 and increase the salary of the Airport manager by $15,000.

She said the board of education employees were paid during COVID when some county employees were not. County employees have already been given $500 each.

Concerning the decrease in the civic center director’s salary she said its a venue with adequate room to promote large groups. She mentioned that she had observed the director and secretary setting up chairs for events and working very hard. She noted that it’s very used because it took her six months to make an appointment. She said it is also in need of a lot of repair.

“I think to reduce the salary of the director by $15,000 is a mistake,” she said.

In other business, commissioners:

• Elected notaries who were: April Arnold, Sonia Baird, Mary A. Barnhill, Lauren Bomar, Danny B. Brandon, Lana Foster, Amanda Hankins and Melinda Skinner.

• Heard a report on the county’s debt obligation from the county mayor which is required by the state. He said the highway department has a debt of $268,000 which is a capital outlay note for equipment.

• Were advised that all the monthly reports have been filed.

• Appointed Brittany Fowler, Philip Moore, and Joey Simmons to the Carroll County Agricultural Extension Board. Their terms will expire in Jan. 2026.

• Reappointed Willie Huffman and appointed Dr. Paul Evans to the Carroll County Airport Board.Their terms will expire in Jan. 2027.

• Reappointed Keith Priestley to the Carroll County Health and Educational Facilities Board. His term will expire in Jan. 2027.

• Voted unanimously (17 votes) to move forward with the grant coordinator position. At the next meeting a resolution will be placed on the agenda concerning the job that would pay a salary of $33,978.63.

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