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Mayor’s moment: Taking responsibility

by Veronica Smith-Creer | May 2, 2021 at 8:30 p.m.
Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer

This column was originally designed to educate our citizens on city government and to share the processes and procedures for getting the essential things done in the city. The last couple of weeks I have struggled with sharing due to those processes continuing to change. Today I can only share from my understanding. Hopefully, things will be made clearer relatively soon.

Many of the processes that most citizens need to be mindful of fall under the Public Works Department. Anything dealing with streets and their condition, trash pick up (including limbs, leaves and furniture), as well as recycling are public works issues.

Since December 10, 2020, the City Council has assumed administrative responsibilities over the Public Works Director. Essentially, that would mean that the members of the council should also assume the responsibility of answering the calls of concerned citizens with issues in those areas; however, that is not the case. I still accept calls of concern to resolve issues with our citizens and continue to work directly with the Public Works Director.

There is a bit of confusion that the council has established a different board comprised of the council members to meet with the Public Works Director aside from the two scheduled meetings per month of the City Council. Although the new meetings are open to the public, to my knowledge, it is not conducive for citizens to express issues to the council members on the board for resolution. The chairperson of this new board is Councilwoman Judy Ward, and since she sets the agenda, she would be the point of contact for those meetings

Please note that the El Dorado Water Utilities is a different entity from other city departments and falls under the City Council, even more now, with their administrative duties over the Public Works Director. Ultimately, those issues citizens face with the water department would follow the same protocol with the council members as the Public Works Department.

Although a Water Advisory Board is still in place, water department issues are also discussed in the meetings under the newly formed board of the council members. Complaints and concerns are first given to the employees of the El Dorado Water Utilities and the chain of command is followed from there. The Public Works Director and then the City Council members are the highest on the chain of command.

Much like the Public Works Department issues, I still receive phone calls and try to help resolve issues with the water department as well.

By sharing this information, I hope my reluctance to share is understood. As the Mayor, my position is to be administrator, but the city council has now placed itself in that position as well by ordinance.

The situation is confusing, but I continue to hope for clarity. There are quite a few issues that require clarification including the current situation with the Treasurer’s position. After acquiring administrative duties over that position in December, the council fired the former Treasurer without documented disciplinary actions taken beforehand and plans to replace her have not been discussed at this point.

Although at the time of her dismissal, the Finance Chairman, Councilman Vance Williamson, stated the books should be put in order to reveal the end of year for 2020, the firm hired is still working through the accounts and hopes to have things in place by the end of this month. The ordinance by which the council assumed administrative duties over the Treasurer does not include the process by which to appoint the next Treasurer. Even though I called the issue to the council’s attention, it has not yet been amended to include the process. A job description for the Treasurer is not listed with other city employees. This issue was also brought to the council’s attention. The council would not move forward on the project to confirm job descriptions for all city employees, construct wage analysis and to update the employee handbook. As the legislative branch of city government, these responsibilities fall to the City Council.

In my efforts to share understanding, I must first obtain it. I am reminded in all my getting to get understanding. I can only ask for your patience as we arrive to a better understanding together.

In the meantime, let us continue to work together to make things better!

Veronica Smith-Creer is the Mayor of El Dorado. She can be reached at [email protected]

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