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Clanton to consider paid Chief of Staff and park director

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The Clanton City Council discussed two personnel changes — paying the Chief of Staff and creating a Parks and Recreation director position — during a work session on Oct. 7.

A vote could be made on each of these at the Oct. 12 meeting.

Considering changing the Chief of Staff position from volunteer to full-time with health insurance benefits was discussed.

Mayor Jeff Mims reminded the council that Chief of Staff Bob Woods had not received any compensation for serving in the role for the past year.

When the council created the position at the request of Mims soon after he took office, it was described as a position that would do whatever the mayor asked. It was recommended and approved as a volunteer position.

Mims said Woods had recently had back surgery and “needs a job for a little money and some insurance.”

“I would like to see us go ahead and hire Bob as my Chief of Staff,” Mims said. “We had talked about a city manager, but as long as I have Bob, I don’t think we need a city manager just yet.”

Council member Wade Watley said Woods could fulfill the duties that would have been assigned to each title, for a while at least, based on his expertise.

The job description and salary for a parks and recreation director would expand the responsibilities of leadership in the department and add to what the department oversees.

Mims said he wanted to have funds for the various leagues that play at the parks handled through this department and City Hall.

League directors have told Mims there have been issues with theft of funds from the park in the past.

If approved, the new Parks and Recreation director would be responsible for collecting the money for the leagues, getting it to City Hall for accounting purposes and overseeing purchases for the teams.

“Somebody is going to have to take over this whole deal and get us headed in the right direction,” Mims said.

A master plan for all of the city parks is also in the works. Upgrades to the fields and adding covered batting cages were mentioned as possibilities.

“We can start getting grants for each phase of it,” Mims said.

He said money was available through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Watley asked if the director and the master plan would upgrade the city to be able to host tournaments.

Mims said it would.

A complete job description was expected to be given to the council in time to vote on it at the Oct. 12 meeting.

Council member Mary Mell Smith expressed concern that these personnel changes had not been included in the budget.

“We just keep adding people’s salaries, when are we going to amend the budget that we had set up?” Smith said. “We just keep adding on and adding on. I guess I am concerned about the money.”

Mims said the balanced budget that was passed included $250,000 in surplus, not counting what had been set aside in reserve.

He said the budget would be amended toward the end of this fiscal year, which ends October 2022.

“I feel like we will be fine,” Mims said.

He said some of the new positions have actually helped the city increase revenue.

A first reading on updates to the food truck ordinance requiring operators to apply for a Clanton business license and a permit for every three days they will be in town is also set for Oct. 12. Mims said the permit fee will be proposed at $50, and citations would be written for those operating with an expired permit.

An ordinance establishing parade days is being researched by the city attorney. Mims said the police department has to pay overtime for off-duty officers to block the street. Anyone wanting to do something on another day would be require to pay a fee. Pursuing funding for improvements to Popular Springs Road and establishing a truck route to move tractor trailers off Highway 31 through downtown were also discussed.