City prepares for election
City Mgr. Jeff Ellington says 'wet-dry' issue will likely be on ballot
by MAC OVERTON
Feb 02, 2014 | 1878 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City Manager Jeff Ellington told the Gilmer City Council Tuesday night that the city needs to be ready to conduct the May 3 municipal elections.

The city has an agreement with Gilmer ISD to hold joint city-school board elections, but if there are no contested school races, the school will drop out of the joint agreement.

Ellington said that the city will need to have an election on its own, if that’s the case. Not only are several council posts up, but he said it is likely that enough valid signatures will be on two petitions recently submitted to the city to put propositions on sales of beer and wine for off-premises consumption and for alcoholic beverage service in eating establishments to be on that ballot.

The Upshur County Clerk has declined to provide election services this year, and the city will have to contract for voting equipment.

He said he didn’t know what the cost would be, but it could be paid out of contingency funds.

The council followed his recommendation to give city secretary Kathy Hoover permission to go ahead with preparations.

“We have to have an election,” he said. “We don’t know what the cost will be, but we have to have an election, no matter what.”

Mayor Pro Temp William Hornsby presided in the absence of Mayor Buck Cross, who missed Tuesday and the previous meeting Jan. 14 due to health problems.

“The mayor assured me that he would be at the next meeting (Feb. 11),” Ellington said. However, he cited a provision in the City Charter that if a mayor or city council member misses three consecutive meetings without first getting permission, that seat can be declared vacant.

“Just in case he’s not able to be here next time,” Ellington said, the council needed to give the mayor permission in advance to miss meetings.

They unanimously granted the request.

In a related matter, Ellington recommended that the council establish a “line of succession” to preside in case both the mayor and mayor pro tem were absent from the same meeting.

He said that in another town where he was city manager, he once had to preside when both the mayor and pro tem were absent.

Ellington said that it was less than ideal solution, although “that’s one way to do it.”

“It may not ever come up, but who’d have the gavel?” he asked. “It can happen. Somebody has to preside.”

He suggested that they adopt a recommendation that the presiding officer be the one with the most seniority on the council at the time.

Currently, that would be Brian Williams.

Ellington said he did not want it tied to a name, but to a principle.

“Make it a rule, not a name,” he said.

City Attorney Mike Martin said that it was a good idea.

The council unanimously adopted the proposal, and Ellington said they could adopt it as an ordinance at a future meeting.

Ellington said he would try to schedule a workshop later in the spring on that and other procedures the council needs to consider.

In other business, the council:

• Adopted the state-required Gilmer Police Department’s racial-profiling report for 2013.

• Accepted the mayor pro tem’s reappoint of John McWhorter and Anderson King to the Gilmer Housing Authority board.

• Accepted the monthly sales tax report. The city received $102,539 back from the State Comptroller’s Office, compared to $111,251 for the comparable period last year.

Ellington advised to “not be too concerned” about the drop, because the overall trend for the last several months has been positive. “It’s pretty stable,” he said.

• Approved allowing the Relay for Life anti-cancer fundraiser to use the apron next to the terminal at the Gilmer Airport for their annual fund-raising walkathon in April. The Airport Advisory Board had recommended approval, and the Relay organizers will provide an insurance binder to the city for the event.
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