Galesburg council clashes over past vote
The Galesburg City Council approved a 2.5 percent merit raise for City Manager Dane Bragg Tuesday night, but not before some aldermen bickered among themselves.
Alderman Karen Lafferty, Ward 5, reading from a prepared statement, criticized council members who changed their minds and voted against the telecommunications tax Dec. 1, temporarily throwing the attempt by Bragg to present a balanced budget into turmoil.
“It is unprofessional when they didn’t say they had changed their minds before they went into the meeting” to vote, Lafferty said.
At the Nov. 5 budget meeting, six of seven council members told Bragg they would support an increase of the telecommunications tax from 2 to 6 percent, generating an additional $670,000. When the final vote was taken, Aldermen Ken Goad, Ward 1; Wayne Allen, Ward 6; and Mike Lummis, Ward 7, voted against the measure.
Lafferty also took a veiled shot at Allen by saying city residents she talked to seem “to think (Bragg) has done more than a decent job.”
“I will always reserve the right to change my vote,” Lummis said.
Goad agreed and scolded Lafferty.
“I think it is bad you are beating a dead horse, Mrs. Lafferty,” Goad said. “Please do not bring it up again that I changed my mind.”
Allen said he and Bragg have talked and the city manager understands what Allen meant when Allen said Bragg was doing a decent job. An obviously angry Allen said, “If I wanted a history lesson, I’d go to Knox College or the library or something.”
Deputy Mayor Lomac Payton, who presided over the meeting in the absence of Mayor Gary Smith, attempted to calm things down. He also addressed the issue in his closing comments.
“We’re elected to do a job,” Payton, the 4th Ward alderman, said. “Let us from this day forward ... let’s consider Feb. 4 (the next council meeting) the first day of this year and let’s go forward. Let’s leave all personalities behind and move forward. ... Let’s try to move forward.”
Despite the fussing among council members, the merit raise for Bragg was approved by a 5-2 vote, with Goad and Alderman Russell Fleming, Ward 3, voting no.
Alderman Bill Kendall, Ward 2, said he received a couple of calls from constituents about the merit raise, which is on top of the 2 percent cost-of-living raise city employees received. Bragg will get that 2 percent plus the 2.5 merit increase, creating a total 4.5 percent raise for him.
“This merit raise we are giving him is not going to be every year,” Kendall said. “This is a one-time bonus.”
And Lafferty did not limit her comments to criticisms of her fellow aldermen. She praised Bragg’s performance, as well.
“We should all be proud of the performance he gave us the first year,” she said.
Although Fleming voted no, he said Bragg was doing a “great job.”
The council also approved the 2008 Salary Ordinance, which includes the state-mandated increase in the minimum wage from $7.50 to $7.75 an hour, effective July 1. The vote was 6-1, with Fleming casting the lone no vote.