Council hears mayor’s farewell comments

By Jan Murray jmurray@southeastsun.com

Council hears mayor’s farewell comments

Outgoing Daleville Mayor Claudia Wigglesworth said, “It’s been an amazing four years. We’ve gotten a lot done, a lot that was promised, that the good people of Daleville elected me to do,” during her farewell comments at the Oct. 18 regularly scheduled city council meeting. The mayor noted multiple accomplishments made during her tenure as well as some shortfalls of previous administration(s). She also gave enormous credit to city employees and the city council for the successes and progress of the last four years.“The results of the past four years are not because of the power of one person. Well, that would be un-American. It’s actually the result of the commitment of all. I am very proud of our accomplishments and I thank the city council and I thank the city employees for their dedication and hard work. I thank the people of Daleville who allowed me the honor and the privilege to serve as mayor for the past four years. "The mayor used her original campaign theme T.E.A.M.—teamwork, the establishment of enforcement of standards, the accountability of resources and the marketing of the city—as the backdrop to highlight some accomplishments, specifically discussing the city budget, listening to the citizens and recognizing others.“When I was on city council—(the four years prior to serving as mayor)—the only thing I knew as a city council person was that when the bill list came every month, we paid for what the mayor bought. So the responsibility, the purse strings of the city, went back to where it should be and that was with the city council and that’s where it has resided for these past four years,” said Wigglesworth. “How did we, as a council, determine how we were going to spend the money?...We listened to the people of the city of Daleville. Not just the people I go to church with, not just the people that come to city hall and not just the people that sit up here. Our Planning Commission sent out a citizen’s survey. We took that survey very seriously. It was the people that decided what areas of the city of Daleville needed improving and that is where we really focused our money. "That listening to the citizen’s wants and needs for the town are what Wigglesworth listed as a second accomplishment as she highlighted a few areas that surveyed citizens indicated were needed and which were made part of the city’s formal Comprehensive Plan. The city council unanimously approved the new comprehensive plan at its March 3, 2015 meeting and was the first such plan since 1999. Its purpose is to serve as a guide for future city developments and improvements. The plan addresses 76 different items under an action plan for the areas of economic development, future land use, housing and neighborhood development and infrastructure, community facilities and public service. During her comments, the mayor took issue with social media complaints about the main thoroughfare onto Fort Rucker—Daleville Avenue—and said the appearance of the road had long been an issue and should not have been blamed on her administration.She said Daleville Avenue has “looked bad for decades” and that “talking the talk that Daleville Avenue looks bad and walking the walk to do something about it” was the difference in her administration and those in the past. "The fix is in place. Daleville Avenue is going to start to look better. Again, that is what the people of Daleville wanted,” she said, adding the newly updated zoning ordinance will preclude the street side display of merchandise beyond May 2018. The comprehensive zoning ordinance update was approved at the June 7 city council meeting. Wigglesworth said that citizens responding to the survey also expressed a desire for expanded senior citizen services and “now they (the Senior Center) not only provide health programs, nutrition, fitness programs, and crafts, but we have also spent money to fix the inside of that facility. Now it’s a place we can be proud of.”The condition of city streets was another main concern citizens noted on the Planning Commission surveys and the mayor said those have been and continue to be addressed as funds allow.“We’ve looked at our streets. We know when they were last paved and which ones need to be paved in the future and, again, that depends on funding,” said the mayor, explaining that the city now has a prioritized list of streets and roads to be paved. She said the first three roads slated for paving in the current 2017 fiscal year are Black Hawk, Skyline and Apache at a cost of more than $300,000. During the mayor’s term, Daleville Avenue, Donnell Boulevard and Livingston Street were paved. Daleville Avenue was a state project sought out by the mayor.Lack of sidewalks was another issue citizens raised on the touted survey. “We have had two large sidewalk projects and they were completed and one is planned for this year,” Wigglesworth stated. The sidewalk projects are being financed through special matching grants. Parks and recreation was yet another concern noted in the surveys.“The Billy Atkins Community Center was a dump and really needed a lot of work and resources. The city council put their resources into our recreational area and all I get is very, very good feedback from it. Our community center is alive and active with more activities than it has had in the past decades,” she said referencing two new playgrounds and the two new ballparks that are currently under construction at Culpepper Park. The third accomplishment is recognizing the accomplishments of others and the marketing of the city. Marketing, the mayor explained, is more than just promoting city buildings and services, but also “showcasing the great people and organizations of this city” and updating something as simple as the display cases in our Cultural and Convention Center which is rented to outside parties is “a great place” for others “to get to know more about our city.”Wigglesworth said that when she took office many city employees either didn’t know what was and was not ethical or did, but were okay with it and she worked to change that. "Many of the employees, four years ago when I took office, did not have an understanding of the ethical standards, the ethical standards identified in the city council personnel manual that clearly identifies examples of unacceptable conduct. Things, such as the use of city cars, things such as using (city) facilities for work for personal gain. Four years ago, I am going to say that most employees knew that the questionable behavior was unethical, but many thought it was okay if the mayor gave them permission to do it. “There is a public trust given to government employees and elected officials who are entrusted with government and taxpayer dollars. I’ve told them (the employees) over and over that no one can give you permission to do something that is illegal or unethical.”Wigglesworth also noted the city needed to be in full compliance with personnel standards as an equal opportunity employer in order to properly receive federal grants. But, she said that hiring practices, prior to her tenure as mayor, was likely not in compliance, but rather “the family, friends and favors method of hiring. ”But now, we have a system in place,” Wigglesworth said. “We have job descriptions, as our personnel policy manual has always required us to have. Job descriptions to hold employees accountable. Job classifications were created in 2013, as well as performance plans and performance evaluations. Now, when we have job vacancies, they may be filled internally before posting them publicly…In 2013, we established a pay scale and I want to thank former council member Jimmy Seaton. "That was really something that he advocated and worked on personally for us to put that in place. We also now do background investigations…All of these actions should have really already been in place…but they just weren’t done." Applauding the work of others within city government, Wigglesworth thanked City Clerk Angelia Filmore, Court Clerk Michelle Bryan, Mayoral Administrative Assistant Kathryn Eubank and Jennifer Miller, a former assistant. In regards to Filmore, the mayor said, “She has provided the continuity for personnel management, financial management and records keeping for over 30 years,” and has always supported the enforcement of longstanding policies where “previously there was no support for." The mayor said many policies have been put into place under Filmore’s management that are for the good of the city all around, including a cash management policy to deter theft, which had been an issue in the past, and streamlining many city operations, such as online business licenses. Filmore has been city clerk for more than 30 years and served under multiple mayors. Bryan was given credit by the mayor for notifying city officials that the magistrate’s office did not need two employees, as it previously had, nor did the city need two city judges. Wigglesworth said eliminating the clerk position and the second judge’s position saved the city an estimated $35,000 annually. Wigglesworth said she arrived to “an empty front office, vacant because of a childish, unprofessional attitude,” to begin her term and that was a “terrible burden” on her and Filmore, but smart hires for the mayor’s assistant helped overcome that. She said Miller and then Eubank came on board to become the “voice of Daleville,” manage the convention center, a multitude of mayoral office responsibilities as well as website and Facebook management. The outgoing mayor said she hopes the new administration will keep the web-presence of the city up and going. "I sure hope that the website and Facebook page keep on because there is more information there for citizens than I had as a city council member about how the city operates,” Wigglesworth said. "There is now a team. T-e-a-m. We now have great employees that understand their duties and responsibilities and the high ethical standards that are expected of them. I think Daleville is in an irreversible forward momentum, that with a strong commitment of the city council, it will continue. Daleville really is the ‘City of Possibilities’ and I wish only the best for the next administration." It also was Councilman Bob Slagle’s final meeting after numerous years on the water board and the city council. He thanked the people of Daleville for allowing him to serve and said his replacement, newly-elected councilman Bobby Hardrick, “will do a great job.” Hardrick will take office, along with the new mayor, Jayme Stayton, Nov. 7.Chamber of Commerce President Stephen Drown and Executive Director Nancy Garner presented Wigglesworth and Slagle with certificates of appreciation and gifts, thanking both for service to the city. In other business, the council approved bills totaling $65,921.74 which included about $1,300 for required reflective street signs and $5,109.95 for recreation department uniforms, a cost eventually covered by the parents/guardians who sign children up for programs. The next council meeting will be following the swearing-in ceremony of the new mayor and council on Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall.

 

Certificates of Appreciation Daleville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Stephen Drown, far left and Chamber Executive Director Nancy Garner, far right, presented outgoing Mayor Claudia Wigglesworth, second from left, and outgoing Councilman Bob Slagle, second from right, certificates of appreciation and gifts following the Oct. 18 city council meeting. The meeting was the final one for the mayor and Slagle as a new administration will be sworn in prior to the Nov. 7 meeting.

 

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