Blame Game

Blame Game

By Marla Jones,Reporter •

RAINSVILLE, Ala. — (Full Video Below) The Rainsville City Council held their last meeting of 2018 on Monday, December 17. 

In the absence of Mayor Rodger Lingerfelt, Mayor Pro Tem Ricky Byrum conducted the meeting.

Councilmember Marshall Stiefel reported that he had just seen the receipt for the final payment of the audit but stated that he had not seen the audit itself. Stiefel stated that the Council had yet to be presented with the annual audit of city accounts by the mayor. The audit for the 2016-2017 fiscal year has yet to be made public and now the 2017-2018 fiscal year audit is due as well. The city recognizes a October-September fiscal year for their budgets.

Byrum stated that Stiefel had spoken with the accountants several times and wondered what they had told him. Stiefel rebutted that the accountants told him that the Mayor had sent a letter of engagement; however, they did not receive any official numbers until June 21 of 2017, which virtually put the accountants behind the schedule.

Stiefel also said that he was still researching the changes at the Agri-Business Center, but was interrupted by Byrum who stated that this was a City Council meeting, not a meeting of the Agri-Business Center Board.

Stiefel replied back that he knew that this was a City Council but that the City subsidizes the Agri-Business Center in taxpayer money with approximately $1,000 per day. Byrum asked Agri-Business Board Chairman Bryan Thomas if he had anything to say. 

Thomas addressed Stiefel regarding his statements that the PBA had a raw deal, which Stiefel replied that he meant that they did not receive any pay even after taking over the financial duties of the Agri-Business Center. Thomas laid blame to the City’s previous administration and former mayor Nick Jones. Jones and previous council left office in November of 2016.

Last week, Southern Torch sent letters to the PBA Board members, Mayor Lingerfelt, attorneys for the City and PBA Board, Agri-Business Center director Mike Sweat and City Clerk Kelly Frazier in an effort to obtain financial information pertaining to the PBA. At the time of print, no information has been provided.

Thomas appeared to be unhappy with the information request, however, the official requests were made pursuant to Alabama law that governs disclosure of public information and documents.

Thomas said that the letters should have been sent to the last City Council and Mayor, not the present administration. He stated that the last administration and mayor, “set us back ten years.” Thomas told Stiefel that, “we will get you all the information you need, buddy.”

Jones was contacted for comment and added, “that subsidizing the Agri center to the tune of $360,000 a year has certainly put the City in worse financial condition when compared with the total annual budget for the Civic Center which was $120,000 a year. Plus, with the Civic Center, Plainview (High School) had unfettered access to a facility that Rainsville taxpayers built and paid for.” When asked about criticism of his management style Jones said, “I stand by my record. The facility was built and and is still managed on fairytale economics and good ole boy politics.  And I’ve never let criticism from the good ole boys bother me.”

Southern Torch will update our story as more information becomes available.

In other business, the council:

  • Set a special called meeting with a planned executive session to discuss the good name and character of a city employee; the meeting will be held on Thursday, January 3 at 5pm 
  • Approved the surplus of 48 pieces of office equipment in the police department
  • Approved calendar sales money ($2,160.41) for police evidence program 
  • Moved to open a new account for seized drug money 
  • Accepted the bid for new emergency communication equipment for the police department in the amount of $123,253.77
  • Approved renewal of the Children’s Advocacy Center sponsorship in the amount of $1,000
  • Approved a two-percent raise for City employees; cost were not stated
  • Approved the repair of sewer lines in the Orchard subdivision

The next regular meeting of the Rainsville City Council will be on Monday, January 7, 2019 at 5pm with a workshop beginning at 4:15pm. 

FULL VIDEO of the Rainsville City Council Meeting 12/17/18
FULL VIDEO of the Rainsville City Council Workshop 12/17/18