by Tony E. Rutherford, News Editor
Council, Mayor's Office Proposed Budget Adjustments

At large councilman David Ball noticed a wage adjustment in the Mayor's office --- the addition of  pay grade P29D --- during the initial city budget hearing Saturday morning, March 1.

Mayor Williams told council members, "We need to respond to recruitment efforts of our administrators," stressing "our administrators are paid below market levels elsewhere... if we are looking to make sure this organization operates with excellence."

Although the Mayor referred to Police Chief Skip Holbrook's status as a finalist for the same position in Columbia, S.C., the proposed increase is for the Director of Finance and Administration, Brandi Jacobs-Jones, who moved from council member to the administration in the term of Mayor David Felinton .

Ball asserted favoritism toward Ms. Jacobs-Jones, but the Mayor reminded that she is the city's chief operating officer, which should have pay comparable to similar positions at the school board, Marshall University and the county.

"You get what you pay for, and this city has gotten by on the cheap for so long," Williams said. "Somehow we have these wonderful people who have stayed because they wanted to be here. But all of them consider weekly going somewhere else where they will have less responsibility and more pay."


Williams acknowledged a small snafu at the session --- a decrease in the budget for council, which prompted a question of whether the "microgrants" would be continued. The Mayor responded , "yes," and explained that the decrease would be absorbed by the mayor's office.

"The mayor has no right to decide your budget," Williams said.

City Clerk Barbara Nelson stressed funds would be retained to put the city code online. Further, she asked that the official recording process go from tape to digital. That would cost about $1,000 and make it easier to provide requested tapes of business sessions.

Council chair Mark Bates suggested a TV monitor for the council chair and one for placement outside of council chambers so that overflowing crowds can hear and see the sessions.  The one for the chairman, who has control of a switch that changes camera position from the wide shot of council to one from the speaker's podium, would assist in ensuring the switch is properly switched back and forth.

Councilman Gary Bunn suggested using the auditorium for large meetings, but councilman Caserta reminded that the charter decrees that meetings be televised. He left open the possibility of a tape-delayed broadcast, however."Wi-fi would solve many problems," Caserta said.

Mayor Williams added that the advance team for Sen. Joe Manchin's town forum found it "attractive that the meeting would be televised on the public access channel."

Bates then created an ad hoc committee to further examine internet capabilities which would include streaming meetings via the internet.


Williams described his office as having a "different look and feel" thanks to permissions given by council. One position has been moved to the finance department , "we're not utilizing the same contracted employees," and travel costs in fiscal 2015 have been reduced.

"We're overcoming the broke, not getting things done image," Williams said, stressing how the communications office has "helped change our  brand. We have been able to do in 90 days what would have (previously) taken a year or two. Our brand is on the rise."

Referring to the river spill of the chemical MPHM in Charleston, Williams pledged to "be seen on the forefront of water quality management," by initiating "our voice" in WV and elsewhere.