WHITE SPRINGS — Discussions regarding the White Springs Fire Department as well as the town’s budget and financials led to a lengthy, and at times heated, White Springs Town Council meeting July 9.
During the three-plus hour meeting, council members again expressed concerns with the number of calls answered by the fire department as compared to the number of calls for service that received no response.
“The only way to ensure coverage all of the time is to have a paid fire department,” Town Manager Stacy Tebo replied.
Mayor Helen Miller inquired about other neighboring volunteer departments, such as Genoa, and the ability to respond to calls.
Tebo said she couldn’t speak to the Genoa station, she was only stating the only way to ensure coverage.
As concerns continued over the number of “no answer” calls or a delayed response, the point was made that there are 12 volunteer members of the fire department and none have portable radios in order to respond to dispatch. In order to communicate with dispatch when a call comes in is through the mounted radio in the fire/EMS vehicles at the station.
During a later discussion about the town’s budget and finances, Miller took issue with the town’s current process which has not included her or Vice Mayor Walter McKenzie signing checks.
Miller read the town’s resolution that said all of the town’s checks should be signed by the town manager and town clerk, in the absence of the mayor or vice mayor.
“Since the reorganizational election, I haven’t even been asked to come sign a signature card for the town bank accounts,” Miller said.
Miller then issued a resolution that starting immediately the mayor or vice mayor must be co-signers and, if unavailable, Police Chief Tracy Rodriquenz should cosign.
During the ensuing heated discussion, Councilwoman Tonja Brown inquired why the resolution was made and asking to see the old resolution.
“This seems to be adversarial and it shouldn’t be,” resident Dennis Price said, explaining the logical way of handling the town’s financial matters. “This isn’t an adversarial thing and I don’t know that we should be making it one.”
Near the beginning of the meeting, another resident, Nicole Williams, addressed the council with her concerns as well. Those concerns surrounded the town’s code enforcement officer, Shonda Werts, who Williams said was violating the town’s code herself. According to Williams, Werts was not using the town’s water at her food pantry in the old Town Hall, which is required to operate off city water.
During Werts’ code enforcement report, Miller asked about the allegation.
Werts said when she moved into the building and discovered that it was not hooked up to the town’s water system, she didn’t want to burden the town with the cost of making that connection. She added she believed she could use an affordable water system, similar to what is used in concession stands and mobile units.
Despite the violation, Vice Mayor Walter McKenzie applauded Werts for attempting to avoid placing the burden on the town.