Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fairfield City Council rejects Coachman's veto, tables another

The Fairfield City Council overruled one mayoral veto and tabled another one for future discussion in back-to-back called meetings on Monday night.The council rejected a veto by Mayor Kenneth Coachman on a financial ordinance approved a few weeks ago. The ordinance prohibited the paying of any city bills before they are reviewed and approved by the council. A letter from Tracy Lane Roberts, assistant general counsel with the Alabama League of Municipalities, read in part: "The municipal budget is not an ordinance of permanent operation, and thus is not subject to the mayor's veto." The council approved on a 4-3 vote the acceptance of Roberts' letter, leaving the ordinance intact. Scott, Smith, Ves Marable and William Murray voted yes and voting no was Jerry Yarbrough, Ronald Strothers and Council President Eldridge Turner. The second called meeting, moments later, was over the salary being paid to Coachman's executive assistant, Lucy Nash. A few weeks ago the council set her salary and that of the City Council administrator at $34,000. Nash had been hired at a salary of about $46,000, the same amount her predecessor had received. Coachman vetoed the reduction.
Marable argued that the previous executive assistant had earned that salary over 17 years of service to the city. At this point, Tyrone Townsend, an attorney for Nash, attempted to speak, but was told that he could not speak because he was not on the agenda. Townsend laid a document on the podium, saying it was a copy of a lawsuit he has filed in federal court on behalf of his client. Council members called a closed session and left the room for about 20 minutes. When they returned, there was a unanimous vote to table the salary issue.

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