By Tom Travis
Councilperson Eric Mays (1st Ward) Tuesday contacted East Village Magazine (EVM) to respond to Mayor Sheldon Neeley’s press release about the council’s failure to adopt a budget in Monday’s meeting.
Mays said he objected to Neeley calling the council as a whole, dysfunctional.
Mays retorted, “I think we’re dealing with a deceptive, trickery, lying type of a mayor. In order for the council to operate in a budget process we need good information in a timely manor.”
Mays said he reached out to EVM because “I don’t believe that Neeley’s press release is accurate. I think the council is dysfunctional in certain ways but I think you have to define that dysfunction. This is a dysfunctional administration. He [Neeley] is ordering things done because he doesn’t even know all the rules.
“I think it’s bad that he releases a press release on a dysfunctional council when it’s like pulling teeth to get accurate information from his administration,” Mays said. “You’ve got department heads such as the chief financial officer [Shelbi Frayer] scared to give the council information. She has to ask Clyde [Clyde Edwards, city administrator] if it’s okay to give us information.”
Attendance by council members is a problem, according to Mays
Mays blasted Council President Kate Fields and Councilperson Eva Worthing, “and even sometimes” Councilperson Santino Guerra for not being present at many of the budget hearing meetings. Mays noted that Guerra said in a ABC Channel 12 interview that the reason he left a meeting was that his call was dropped.
Mays said, “Call back, that ain’t no excuse.”
“Popping up surprise resolutions”
Mays continued, “You’ve got Kate Fields [4th Ward Councilperson] running with a dysfunctional administration popping out surprises such as the garbage resolution increase. The administration should have presented that increase way back in the budget presentation. With an increase from $167 to $250 we should’ve heard that weeks ago.”
Mays called the garbage collection resolution as a “surprise.” Mays raised concern over the resolution being presented to the council at Monday’s meeting and not in earlier budget discussion meetings. The resolution sought an increase for garbage collection from $167 per residence to $250 per residents per year.
“That is very serious and that was from Neeley’s administration. That’s dysfunctional,” Mays argued.
He explained the increase in the waste collection fee would offset the budget by $2.6 million, noting, “there ain’t but $2.1 million in the fund balance.”
Where is the resolution to accept the $47 million stimulus money
Mays and other council members want the resolution passed that “accepts” $47 million, the first of two payments from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan stimulus. The money has been deposited into the city’s bank account and a resolution is required to officially accept it into the city’s coffers. With the adoption of this resolution, Mays reiterated, the $47 million could be budgeted.
Once a year the council is able to amend the budget. The council has spent a plethora of hours over numerous budget hearing meetings discussing the budget. The mayor and the administration, for their part, have the option to bring forth amendments to the budget throughout the year.
“Neeley is playing politics with the $47 million,” Mays contended. What he expects to happen next, he said, is that “Neeley will come every two weeks to council meetings with the $47 million issuing a press release saying, “Oh, I want to put money in blight, oh, I’m gonna to put this in public safety, oh, I want to put this for this person downtown.’ The hell with him. Quit playing politics with $47 million. Bring the resolution forth so we can budget it.”
“Neeley’s hiding information, not just garbage, not just the $47 million he’s not getting us documents in a timely manner. We know what’s going on. And then he issues a bullshit press release. It’s intentional. Issuing bogus press releases to play the community out. It’s his administration that’s dysfunctional holding back information.
“I don’t do press releases. I’m Councilman Eric Mays. I talk to people,” he said.
“We’ve got a little man running around with a Napoleon Bonaparte syndrome. Running around issuing half-truths and lying press releases. I’m pissed and I want the residents to know the truth. I don’t want this guy using city letterhead and press releases to fool people.”
Council meeting today to adopt budget
The council is reconvening today at 4:30 p.m. to try to adopt the city’s budget, after which the council will meet in committee session.
EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.