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Council to discuss new public works board, facility manager position at meeting today

by Tia Lyons | May 5, 2021 at 8:30 p.m.

The El Dorado City Council is expected to resume discussions about procedural and personnel matters when they convene for a regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. today in the Council Chamber of City Hall.

The opening prayer and Pledge of Allegiance will begin at 5:25 p.m.

Council Member Willie McGhee requested that two items the council previously discussed be placed on today’s agenda: the creation and function of the El Dorado Water and Public Works Board and a suggestion to retool the position of the city’s public facilities manager.

During the council’s last regular meeting on April 22, McGhee and Council Member Andre Rucks questioned the purpose of the EWPFB, which was formed in February.

Several council members said then that the intent of the new board, which is made up of the city council, is to keep abreast of various projects that fall under the umbrella of the Department of Public Works, including streets, sanitation, El Dorado Water Utilities, city parks and more.

As an example at the time, Council Member Judy Ward said she did not know that work had begun on improvements to Fifth Street between West and College avenues and she could not answer a question from a resident about the project, which began in January.

Last month, Rucks and McGhee contended that such matters should be discussed during city council meetings, with which local residents are more familiar.

“I know those meetings are open to the pubic but people are used to coming here. Their minds are trained to come here at a certain time for council meetings,” Rucks said.

He and McGhee said some recent discussions and actions the council has taken should have occurred during regular council meetings.

Rucks pointed to a vote the council took in March that required former City Treasurer Trena Dean resign or be dismissed.

The action took place during a Finance Committee meeting that immediately followed an EWPWB meeting.

Council Member and Finance Committee Chairman Vance Williamson called for an executive session shortly after the Finance Committee meeting opened.

McGhee and Rucks said they were unaware of plans and the reason for the executive session.

“I thought the firing of Ms. Trena should have been done here. It was sneakily done. How do we determine what issues are presented at the (EWPWB) and the city council meeting?” Rucks asked on April 22.

Dean did not tender a resignation.

McGhee also referenced a suggestion that was made by Council Member Paul Choate on April 14 to transfer public facilities manager Brandon White to another position within the public works department.

White, who previously worked in the city’s recycling program, was hired for the public facilities position last year.

He oversees the management, operation and bookings for the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium, the city’s trolley bus and city stages.

Choate’s suggestion came during an EWPWB meeting.

As a cost-cutting measure, Choate asked the council to consider abolishing the public facilities manager’s position, which costs approximately $40,000 a year, and add $15,000 to an existing contract for services with Main Street El Dorado to allow the nonprofit organization to book and manage the auditorium.

McGhee and Rucks strongly objected to the suggestion.

“It seems like he was asking for a vote right then and that was my first time hearing about this,” McGhee said later.

Saying that more discussion was needed, McGhee asked that the item be placed on the agenda for today and that White be present.

On April 22, Council Member Dianne Hammond requested that council members be provided with a year-to-date list of bookings and charges at the auditorium from January 2020 until the present.

Choate notified Mayor Veronica Smith-Creer that he will not be able to attend the council meeting today.

Also on the agenda is a report from the last Finance Committee meeting on April 28.

Council Member Billy Blann have also said he will be unable to attend today’s meeting.

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