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story.lead_photo.caption - Photo by Bradly Gill

— By Bradly Gill

News Editor

The Camden City Council had a full load of business at Tuesday night’s meeting, including hearing the resignation of Alderman Harry Simmons, assessing liens on properties, appointing Planning and Zoning commissioners as well as hearing a revision in the city’s whistle blower policy.

Before Mayor Julian Lott’s report, he read a brief statement from Council member Harry Simmons, who has moved to East Camden and vacated his seat. Simmons’ seat in Ward 2 will be contested in an election between Scott Bodenhamer and William McCoy in November.

Aldermen L.E. Lindsey floated the idea of temporarily filling Simmons’ seat with the winner of that election for the November and December meetings. No action was taken at Wednesday’s meeting on the suggestion.

During the mayor’s report Mayor Lott said that streetwork was still ongoing and that chip sealing was being done to a number of streets. He also noted that work was being done to revitalize the Keep Camden Beautiful Committee which works to improve the aesthetics of the city.

In old business

Resolution No. 21-20, a resolution requiring certain materials to be posted on the City Website was tabled until the November meeting.

The following ordinances were put up for a 3rd reading and passed unanimously:

• Ordinance No. 18-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 526 Hawkins Street.

• Ordinance No. 20-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 485 Hawkins Street.

• Ordinance No. 21-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 474 California Avenue.

• Ordinance No. 22-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 440 Maple Street SW.

• Ordinance No. 23-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 419 Maple Street SW.

• Ordinance No. 24-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 407 North Street.

• Ordinance No. 26-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 536 Cleveland Ave. NW.

• Ordinance No. 27-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 578 Cleveland Ave. NW.

• Ordinance No. 29-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1041 Elm Street.

• Ordinance No. 30-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1333 Ronald Drive.

• Ordinance No. 31-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 1440 Ronald Drive.

• Ordinance No. 32-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 2157 Avon Avenue.

• Ordinance No. 34-20, an ordinance assessing a lien on certain property located at 687 Agee Avenue NW.

In new business

• Ordinance No. 35-20, an ordinance fixing the rate of taxation for the year 2021; Declaring an emergency; and for other purposes passed unanimously.

• Ordinance No. 36-20, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 01-11 assessing a lien on certain property located at 618 Cleveland Ave. NW passed unanimously.

• Ordinance No. 37-20, an ordinance repealing Ordinance No. 02-11 assessing a lien on certain property located at 622 Cleveland Ave. NW. passed unanimously.

• Ordinance No. 40-20, an ordinance to amend the Camden Zoning Ordinance in order to define uses in certain residential zones. passed unanimously.

• Resolution No. 26-20, a resolution authorizing the Mayor to pay an end of year bonus to City employees, including the City Clerk, City Attorney, Judge and Mayor passed unanimously.

It was noted by City Treasurer Jim Green that the city was due to get CARES act money, and Mayor Julian Lott mentioned that the city kept running through the COVID-19 pandemic with may employees considered essential workers.

Mayor Lott said, “We almost have all essential workers and if you don’t believe that, be here when someone misses… we didn’t do the hazard pay and all that. COVID-19 has been a challenge for us and we’ve had people that have shown up and we wanted to do something extra for those people. Our people from the trash truck on up.”

The bonuses will total $229,000.

• Resolution No. 27-20, a resolution confirming the appointment of Travis Daniel to the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustments unanimously passed.

During audience participation former Planning Commission/Board of Adjustment Chairman Willie Cooper spoke out against the appointment of Daniel, saying Daniel used his position on the board to benefit himself and created a conflict of interest. Daniel at one point was the City Code Enforcer.

Lindsey stated, ”Let me just say, I know Willie spoke and there’s people that have had issues with Travis and his time as a Code Enforcement whatever, and I’ve had a few heated discussions myself over code enforcement things, but you can’t ask for a guy that’s worked on the job and knows the stuff coming in any better than he does. Like it or not, he at least knows the rules.”

Alderman Joe Askew echoes Lindsey’s sentiments and said that there are still five other members who can vote on the board apart from Daniel.

Daniel was unanimously voted in.•Resolution No. 28-20, a resolution confirming the re-appointment of Ben Wooten to the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustments passed unanimously• Resolution No. 29-20, a resolution confirming the appointment of Wendell Parr to the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustments. passed unanimously

• Resolution No. 30-20, a resolution confirming the appointment of Katie Drake to the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustments passed unanimously

•Resolution No. 31-20, a resolution designating a person to to receive whistle blower complaints was passed unanimously.

Under the resolution, possible misconduct by city employees can be reported by other city employees to the mayor. Previously, the Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual stated that in the event of a complaint involving the Mayor, the complaint would be submitted to a person as designated by the Mayor and confirmed by the board of aldermen; but no official person had been designated. With the new resolution, City Attorney Michael Frey takes on that role.

Frey told the Camden News, “The whistle blower process is part of out personnel procedures. It applies to employees and officials. The purpose of whistle blower policies is to protect employees from retaliation if they report possible misconduct. The policy also allows complaints to be made while maintaining confidentiality. I certainly encourage the public to report any concerns, but they are not required to follow the same procedures as employees.”

Before the meeting was adjourned Mayor Lott thanked the councilmen for a civil meeting.

“I want to say thank you tonight, especially for our working together and being able to accomplish this agenda in almost a record amount of time, I think that’s an hour and a half, and I think that’s more than enough time to do business, but I want to say thank you for the way we have communicated with each other tonight and I know we aren’t just doing this because next month is election month,” Lott said. ”I know we are going to do this forever and a day. For the rest of our lives. We can disagree without being disagreeable and tonight has been a beautiful meeting. I feel good. I don’t feel heavy and weighted with angst. And it’s not just about me, but as a leader whatever we are putting out on the world wide web we can’t take back.”

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