Despite a heartfelt letter from city manager Auburn Ford tendering his resignation, the Midway city council voted 4-3 Monday night to terminate him anyway instead of accepting that resignation, with Eria Caesar, Delores Madison, Chuck Willis, Allean Robinson in the affirmative. Mayor Jerrod Holton, mayor pro tem David Knight and Charlie Smith said no.
Holton had asked the council to approve Ford’s resignation. “He turned in his resignation. That makes a big difference in future job applications,” said Smith.
There was a lengthy discussion on what the city would still owe Ford for his original 2011 contract when he was terminated the first time in January, and what conditions under which he was re-hired in May.
“We don’t have the money to pay him,” said Delores Madison.
“We’re not talking about severance pay. The money owed to him from the 2011 contract is money we owe to him and is due him,” said David Knight.
Ford was terminated after being jailed for 90 days for violating a probation condition last Thursday. (See related story in this week’s Herald.)
The city then went into workshop mode on their 2013-2014 fiscal year budget. Acting city manager Angelia Goldwire and interim police chief Jerome Turner said they’d worked diligently over the past several days to come up with some realistic numbers for the proposed budget, cutting what they could from the city’s coffers because of its financial crisis until grant funds are reimbursed to the city from the state for the city’s new second fire station.
“This is a different budget from the city manager’s. The amended budget has several budget cuts. The rollback rate last year was 4.0763,” said Chief Turner.
“After calculations from the state, we have a rollback rate of 4.0795,” said Goldwire.
They said they proposed some cuts to the city’s budget. “It was tough, but it was a reality check,” said Turner. “We cut the entire city.”
Goldwire said the city manager position was cut to $45,000 from $65,000 in the proposed budget.
An additional budget discussion was held on the city’s proposed charter school and senior center. Mayor Holton said the city was behind on the charter school: “We’re way behind on the charter school. We’re really behind on the 8-ball now.”
As to the senior center, council member Delores Madison said she didn’t even know if Midway could get a line of credit (LOC) from any bank for the proposed senior center at the present time. “I think we need to look at reality,” said Madison.
The council said they’d look at whether the U.S. Department of Agriculture would have funding that would help. Otherwise, they said, the city’s middle school children would have to be bused to Havana Middle School.
After more discussions on the budget, the city moved on, working closer to ending the meeting. Then came the stunner.
Mayor Jerrod Holton, after all city business had been concluded, said he was resigning. “I’ve had much prayer about it,” said Holton. “I have not moved away but my new job requires extensive travel. My heart is in Midway. My resignation from the council will be effective after the next city meeting in September. I know I can’t be effective when I’m out of town so much. A true leader knows when to step down.”