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Councilman Calls Out City Manager

Posted on Thursday, September 7, 2023 at 5:00 pm

Staff Writer

Lewisburg’s City Council Work Session took place on Aug. 29 in preparation for September’s City Council meeting. Seven of the 13 items up for discussion were initiated by Councilmember Tommy Burns. The council worked through the first few issues fast, but item number nine is where things heated up.
Burns requested that City Manager Bam Haislip issue weekly reports for better communication between council meetings. “If weekly reports are too much,” Burns said, “maybe every two weeks because a month seems to be too long.” Burns wants councilmembers to receive updates on high points and pertinent things happening in Lewisburg, so they are more aware of things going on in the community.
Councilmember Vickie Michael pointed out that Haislip does meet with them twice a month. However, Haislip only reports once-during the City Council meeting. Haislip let everyone know he is available to answer questions Monday-Friday and half of Saturday; then asked if there was a specific issue the council needed to be informed on.
Burns replied, “Yeah. I don’t know if the city manager needs to be giving out raises or adjustments without the council knowing about it.”
Haislip responded, “That’s the policy that was in your municipal code book when I got here.”
Burns said, “I’m talking about $17,000. I want to be made aware when people get raises. The council authorizes raises. Without notifying the council, what’s to keep you or anybody else from picking five more people? Then we’re out $100,000.”
Haislip said the money was not a raise and was only given because the job changed. He added, “I told you in the office if that happened again, I would let you know before.” Burns acknowledged their in-office discussion but made it clear he disagreed. Burns said, “A raise is a raise is a raise.” The two went back and forth over the issue for some time.
According to Burns, the money was given out in June or July and was not in the budget. Burns said, “If we don’t know what’s going on, we can’t keep a handle on this money. I’m not opposed to the raise. I’m opposed to no one communicating it to us.”
Haislip acknowledged there was an oversight. He added, “We came in with a new treasurer. She had realigned the way the finance loop worked. We’re talking about additional job duties-much more than what she was doing, and the salary was adjusted accordingly.”
Haislip admitted, “Yep, we did that. Everything was in a rush. I should have informed the council after it was done. The City Manager has the right to do that.”
Burns said, “You may have a right, but I don’t think it’s good policy,”
Councilmember Michael agreed, “I think that was probably more than it should’ve been given the state of this council and what we were trying to do with money for employees. But if there is not a policy that says that the city manager must come before their council with something like that, then we need to make one and solve that problem.”
Both Michael and Burns are in favor of a new policy that ensures the board is notified before any changes are made like this in the future.
Haislip stated, “There’s nobody trying to pull one over, nobody trying to show favoritism. I just want to make that clear. I don’t have a problem with there being a policy.”
Burns asked, “So, when can we have a policy and who’s going to do it? Just because we’ve got excess money in the treasury doesn’t mean it needs to go for salaries.”
The next Lewisburg City Council meeting will take place Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.