Piedmont mayor, councilwoman disagree on cost cutting
by Sara Milledge
smilledge@annistonstar.com
Jul 16, 2013 | 3326 views |  0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Piedmont City Council on Tuesday voted to pay about $441,000 in bills, with councilwoman Brenda Spears voting against the motion.

“I have asked several times… to have the budget amended and have some cost-saving measures,” Spears said to Piedmont Mayor Rick Freeman.

Freeman said the city’s new budget will be implemented in October, and Piedmont’s city government has taken steps to reduce costs.

“I think we have cut a ton of costs,” Freeman said, adding the city is switching phone carriers from AT&T to Charter. “I think it’ll save us a couple thousand dollars a month.”

Freeman added the city has also implemented other cost-saving measures regarding government vehicles and lighting.

“Sometimes there are things we can’t help. Gas has gone up. Insurance has gone up,” Freeman said. “Every day there’s something new coming in that we have to pay that we didn’t know.”

Freeman also addressed widespread citizen complaints against his administration.

“If you got a problem, come talk, don’t go to Montgomery,” Freeman said to those in attendance. “It’s making us look bad down here.”

Freeman said the state capitol has received many complaints concerning Piedmont, most of them against the mayor. Piedmont residents are unhappy that city employees have been given an extra day off for holidays like Christmas and New Year’s, Freeman said.

“They’ve commented about Christmas bonuses,” Freeman added. “But they didn’t cost the city anything.”

Freeman said the $13,000 worth of bonuses came from his own pocket.

Absent from the meeting was councilman Ben Keller, who was involved in a wreck earlier on Tuesday.

“He’s in the ER,” Freeman said. “He’s had a head laceration and may have to spend the night in the hospital.”

Freeman said Keller is expected to recover quickly.

In other business, the council members:

• Awarded Citizen of the Month and Yard of the Month certificates to members of each district. June marked the first month the awards were given, and Freeman said the Citizen of the Month awards will continue throughout his term. The Yard of the Month awards will continue through September, and will resume around the Christmas holidays for lawn decorations.

• Discussed the work to be done to the city’s civic center, which includes the installation of wheelchair ramps and an acid wash of the outside of the building and its columns.

Staff writer Sara Milledge: 256-235-3549. On Twitter @SMilledge_Star.

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