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Tempers flare over Mayoral procedures

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An update on the purchase of a zero radius lawnmower burst into a short heated exchange of words between Mayor Jo Childress and Councilwoman Margaret Scurlock during the monthly meeting of the Mount Ida City Council.
The meeting started out with the approval of the minutes from the last meeting and the financial statement.
Mayor Childress then explained the situation with the city park.
She began by reminding the council members that the city had hired Frank Milligan to mow the park. She stated that he was hired to mow four to five months each year at a rate of $600 per month. Due to a recent accident Milligan is unable to mow the park.
The Mayor explained that one of her employees approached her about the city maintaining the park themselves. She explained that her city employees felt that if they had another mower they could maintain the park as part of their regular duties.
Mayor Childress stated that they had gotten two estimates on a zero radius mower with Mount Ida Small Engine submitting a bid of $3,200 plus tax for a mower that fit their needs. She added that they had purchased the mower. She stated that the mower would pay for itself in about a year.
Councilman Melvin Simpson asked if the mower would be used exclusively for the park. Mayor Childress responded by saying that it would be used for whatever the city needed. The purchase gives the city two zero radius mowers.
Councilwoman Scurlock then asked if the mayor could make such a purchase without the approval of the council. She stated that she thought there was an ordinance that required council approval of any purchase over $1,000.
Mayor Childress appeared to get upset as she responded. She slapped the table and asked if the board wanted her to call them in every time she needed to buy something.
Councilwoman Scurlock stated, “Yes, if you go over the amount.” She added that she thought the amount was $1,000.
“By God Margaret what can you buy for $1,000.” The Mayor responded.
She went on to say that she had been Mayor for 12 years and she “has ran the city pretty dang good.”
The Mayor then told Scurlock that if she felt the Mayor wasn’t doing a good job then she needed to run for mayor.
The Mayor stated that if there was a limit it was set a long time ago and didn’t know if it had been changed. Scurlock responded by saying that she didn’t know if it had been changed. If it had then fine.
Childress asked if the council wanted to come in once a week to go over purchases. Scurlock stated that they used to do that.
“Either let me run the city or you don’t!” The Mayor responded.
Councilman Rick Farmer interjected by saying that he thought it was a good idea for the mayor to let them know when a large purchase was made, but by law the council couldn’t place a limit on what the mayor spends in the duties of her job. He produced a copy of a law passed in 2014  stating such.
Scurlock stated that she knew it used to be a rule, but didn’t know if it had been changed.
Farmer repeated that the law had been changed.
“It may have been changed. I have no idea. I was just asking before you blew up” Scurlock stated to the Mayor.
The Mayor responded by asking if she wasn’t supposed to blow up when “your pointing your finger at me?”
She went on to say that she did not get permission from the council on the purchase. She added that it was the best thing for the city so she bought it.
Scurlock also asked about the company doing the helium tests on the city water lines. She asked the mayor if she had ever found where the council voted to approve the testing.
Mayor Childress stated that the council discussed that subject at length at a meeting she was not present for due to a medical emergency within her family. She added that she had assumed they approved it.
She added that the council had asked her to do something about the water loss and she was doing it.