(Editor's note: A Waldo City Council set for Wednesday night has been cancelled due to illness and will be rescheduled for a late date).
During a nearly two-and-a-half-hour meeting Monday night, Waldo City Council members failed to elect a mayor or set up a special election for March.
Instead, after much discussion and argument, they appointed Bev Rowden to return to the position of the council’s recorder. Rowden will take notes and prepare council minutes. Rowden will earn $500 monthly for the job just as the previous recorder, Darla Longino, who left the position in December.
“I want to be in compliance with whatever the city wants,” Rowden said.
The city had advertised in a weekly newspaper inviting applications for mayor, but no one submitted a letter of intent, said councilman David Baird, a former Waldo mayor. Council member Lawanda Robinson suggested Baird be nominated for an interim mayor because he has experience in the position. At this point the mayor’s job pays $24,000 annually, but that could change.
“He is not trying to take money, in fact, he said he would do it for less,” Robinson said. However, the motion did not receive a second for a vote.
Council members voted to set a $500 spending limit for their upcoming mayor.
Although it was not on the agenda, councilman Rickey Lambert printed pages from the Arkansas Municipal League’s website outlining rules for conducting city business, including “Robert’s Rules of Order.”
Despite the lengthiness of this, Lambert demanded Rowden read many pages aloud. Lambert said the goal of the council in the first meeting of the year should be to review how business is done and make sure everyone understands how the agenda should be set up and who can speak at meetings.
The majority of the meeting seemed to be spent on these items.
“Organizing and setting this up is going to take time and patience,” Lambert said toward the end of the meeting.
But Dedrick Young expressed his concern about the city’s problems and the need to address them sooner versus later.
A key concern brought up at the meeting was a raw sewage leak in the Pine Crest subdivision which has been on the ground for several months and impacts about 25 homes. The leak happened when kids crushed the sewage pipe by riding four wheelers over the top of it. The broken pipes have been fixed by Fire Chief Kenneth Young, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
“Like I’ve said we’ve got a lot of bad things going on out there and we must improve it before the summer,” Young said. “If not we are going to lose our streets.”
Baird suggested the council create a public works director position for Young because he has knowledge in working on streets, water and sewage. For this job, the council could bring his salary up to $12.50 an hour for 20 hours a week, paying him around $14,000 a year, Baird said.
With this new position, the council would no longer pay Young the $300 month for being fire chief and he has agreed to do that service for free, Baird said.
Lambert refused to allow the position to be voted on because he said the requirements of the job were not written down.
“We didn’t come here tonight prepared to write descriptions,” Robinson said.
After Baird made a motion on Young being public works director, and it was seconded by Robinson, Lambert said the matter could go no further.
“We must know what we are doing. That’s just what I said,” Lambert said. “This is the stuff we can’t do.”
In total frustration, Baird began to quote lines from Kenny Roger’s song, “The Gambler.”
“You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run,” Baird said.
Getting back to the sewage discussion, Baird told Lambert he was now hindering what the council needed to do which was to find a solution to the raw sewage at Pine Crest.
“That’s not my point,” Lambert said.
“Well it will be your point,” Baird said. “I’m not trying to cheat the city. There is raw sewage running in the yard and that is against the law. We have a man who is willing to oversee it for $12.50 an hour to take care of the streets, sewers and the water.”
Robinson said she has the raw sewage in her yard and can smell it particularly badly around the mail box.
At about the second hour of the meeting, Ashley Moritz, city attorney, got up from her chair and said she had to go because she had been working in Waldo all day. Moritz does not live in Waldo.
Because the council did not settle on what to do about the mayor, they will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Waldo Fire Station.