Cummings reappointed to school board, more questions arise over city manager issue
By Maria Rakoczy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
MADISON – Monday’s city council meeting brought several major items before the council. One of those was the filling of a seat on the Madison City Schools Board of Education.
Councilman Greg Shaw, the council’s liaison with the school board, nominated Travis Cummings to the Madison City Board of Education. Cummings is already a sitting board member and reapplied for his seat at the expiration of his term in March. He was unanimously reappointed by the council.
Councilwoman Connie Spears shared her praise for Cummings, “I had the pleasure of serving with Mr. Cummings, and he is one of the best school board members that we have.” She continued, “You can see how much he cares. It’s written all over his face every single day, day in, day out. He puts in the work to make sure that he is always putting what is best for students at the forefront of his decision-making. Congratulations, Travis.”
Madison Mayor Paul Finley was absent from the meeting while representing the city at a nationwide meeting in Washington, D.C., but council president Renae Bartlett presented the mayor’s proclamation of ‘Women Owned Business Day’ on his behalf. The proclamation is in collaboration with Women’s Business Council and designates March 30, 2023 as ‘Women Owned Business Day’ “to celebrate growth in business ownership among women in the community”. According to the proclamation, “Alabama has an estimated 153,000 women owned firms, employing just over 111,000 people with combined sales of $19 billion; and City of Madison had 1,399 women owned firms as of 2012”.
President of the Women’s Business Council, Vicki Morris, stated, “On behalf of the Women’s Business Council with the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce, we graciously accept this proclamation because women owned businesses are a part of the small business economy, and if you know anything about business, small businesses drive the local, regional, and national economy. So, if you know a woman owned business, especially in the city of Madison please give them your patronage.”
City manager issue and the May 9 special election
Debates over the city manager proposal again occupied much of the public comments and prompted heated responses from council members. Co-chair of Madison Forward, the organization that submitted the petition to place the city manager proposal on the May 9 special election ballot, Jim Ross, spoke in an effort to disperse information about the city manager system.
“The number one objective for Madison Forward is to ensure that all Madison residents are education and informed about the ballot initiative and to provide as much accurate information as possible and allow them to make an informed decision and an informed vote. Information is available on the Madison city website as well as madisonforwardal.org,” Ross stated.
Former Mayor Sandi Kirkendall brought questions about the city manager system before the council at the previous meeting and came with additional questions on Monday on the function and designation of the city manager position and the change in role for the mayor should the system be implemented.
“The transition committee presentation on the city website stated that the mayor would retain CEO capacity. This does not square with 11-43A-16, which says, ‘The mayor will preside over the council and be recognized as head of the city government for ceremonial purposes but shall have no other administrative duties,’” Kirkendall stated. “Now, much of the transition committee information that is presented is opinion as in ‘city manager will provide continuity’. However, if the statement about CEO capacity being retained by the mayor is incorrect, as I believe it is, then the information should be removed from the city website or an appropriate disclaimer placed on it.”
He then reiterated an unanswered question from the previous council meeting regarding the content of the contract for a city manager, “The basic question is: will the city manager be offered a contract agreement, such as, appointment may be for an indefinite term, however, if the incumbent is removed in a period of less than three years, there will be some type of buy-out?”
Council president Bartlett responded to Kirkendall’s latter question by declining to explore details of a potential contract for a city manager.
“This city council can’t be placed in a situation where we’re negotiating against ourselves and putting out terms of a contract before the voters have even voted and before we have hired an executive. If you’ve ever engaged in negotiations for an executive contract, you negotiate terms and then, you put it to paper, and of course, as in any contract that is entered into, at the school board level or at the city council level, that would be made public when the time is appropriate, but we’re not going to put terms out there that we’re willing to negotiate and agree to this far in advance before we’ve even interviewed candidates,” she stated.
The council addressed the following additional items:
- Annual appropriation agreement with the Madison Animal Rescue Foundation for $15,000
- The disposition of personal property from the Parks & Recreation Department
- Payments to S&ME, Inc. for $10,223.80 for work on the Hughes Road Widening Project, to Barge Design Solutions, Inc. for $7,915.01 for services on Wall Triana and I-565 Intersection Improvements, to McGinnis Construction LLC/Miller & Miller Inc for $669,817.09 for construction of the flyovers, and to HydroCAD Software Solutions, LLC for $627 for annual software support services
- Acceptance of donation from Y. Deweese for $25 towards the Senior Center
- Requests from RZ creations, Inc., SRH Group, Inc., and Circle K Stores, Inc. for Off-Premise Beer & Wine Licenses for Madison IGA 1, Madison IGA 2, and the Madison Boulevard Circle K Store, respectively,
- Professional Services Agreements with S&ME, Inc. for topographical survey along Balch Road for $12,800, Sain Associates for legal description preparation and surveying services on the Browns Ferry box culvert replacement for $4,755, and TTL, Inc. to evaluate sidewalk installation along Mill Road from Bradford Creek Trailhead to County Line Road for $40,700