The Mobile City Council could not hold a meeting Thursday morning due to lack of a quorum.
The meeting Thursday was already scheduled as a makeup for Tuesday’s regularly scheduled gathering, which was postponed due to a city-sponsored trip to Louisville, Kentucky.
The unusual cancellation occurred because only four members of the seven-member body were present. The Zoghby Act, which established the city’s current form of government, requires a supermajority of five members for a quorum in order to hold meetings.
Councilman C.J. Small and Councilman Joel Daves were not expected to be at the meeting. Council Vice President Levon Manzie was expected to attend but notified City Clerk Lisa Lambert via text message Thursday morning he would be unable to make it, Lambert said.
Manzie did not immediately return a call seeking comment on his absence.
The lack of a quorum did not prevent Mayor Sandy Stimpson from questioning councilors present at a pre-conference meeting about what he referred to as “discrepancies” between a resolution he submitted on a previous agenda and the one the board ultimately passed May 28.
Stimpson asked why the language in the resolution asking for the appropriation of $338,000 for additional employees approved by councilors was different than the one he submitted. Council attorney Wanda Cochran said the resolution had been revised and added to the agenda. Stimpson argued that the changes hadn’t been discussed. Cochran later called Stimpson’s version of the resolution “defective,” but did not elaborate.
The issue stems from the employee raises approved by the council May 14.
Councilors made changes on a budget amendment Stimpson’s office had offered seeking to give raises to all city employees, but before approving the $1.6 million amendment, councilors stripped away language that would’ve given raises to employees appointed by Stimpson.
Instead the council gave raises only to merit-system employees, or those hired through the Mobile County Personnel Board. Before approving the funds for additional employees, councilors asked and were told the new employees would be hired through the merit system.
In the original budget amendment, roughly $1.3 million would be set aside for the raises, while more than $300,000 would go toward hiring additional employees. Executive Director of Finance Paul Wesch said that because the council’s change to the amendment only specified money for raises, it left the additional $300,000 in limbo.
As a result, Stimpson’s office had to re-introduce its resolution at the following meeting last week, where it was changed and approved by council. Lagniappe has requested a copy of both resolutions and will update this story when they have been obtained.
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