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July 3, 2014

Tool mayor terms what council is doing ‘illegal’

Athens — “What you are doing is illegal,” said Tool Mayor Tamra Brickey.

Going off the agenda, Bricky said she had something to read to the council.  The mayor said she had consulted an attorney, at her own expense. Echoing the mayor’s words, Gary P. Krupkin, a Dallas attorney, said, “What the council is trying to do is illegal.”

Brickey referred to the council voting unanimously for her as mayor to pay back money to the city she had spent without city council approval. 

Since becoming mayor in 2013, Brickey has purchased items such as business cards, recording device, an office chair, printer, copier, file folders, curtains, curtain rods, cork board, speakers, a wall calendar, monitor stand, day planner, ink refill, flash drive, toner, nameplate, headphones and other items. The council said the mayor is $1,093 over her budget for the fiscal year 2013-2014.

“Because we are a bottom-line budget, and not a line-item budget, all that matters is we don't go over the yearly budget,” said Brickey.

According to the City of Tool purchase policy, the City Secretaries office may issue purchase orders less than $100, without approval by the mayor and the city council, provided said issuance is in accordance with the general intent of the fiscal year budget adopted by the city council.

Purchase orders more than $100, but less than $300, shall require approval by the mayor, provided said issuance is in accordance with the general intent of the fiscal-year budget adopted by the city council.

The key phrase in the policy, according to the council, is, “in accordance with the general intent of the fiscal-year budget.”

Brickey, reading from a written statement, told the council there were two ways the council could handle the situation. The city council could have the city attorney and her private attorney sit down and discuss the situation, or she could sue the city.

Councilman Reeder said, “I suggest you sue the city.” 

The mayor responded that she was not interested in suing the city.

It took five minutes for the Tool City Council to walk out of the special-called meeting on Tuesday. Councilman Donny Daniels, Reeder and Mike Barr left the meeting when the mayor refused to let Daniels respond to the mayor's statement. The three council members exiting caused the mayor to adjourn the meeting due to lack of a quorum.

Daniels, when contacted by phone, said, He “felt there was a conflict  of interest when the mayor consulted the attorney in Dallas, after she had already talked to the city attorney.”

Daniels said that was what he was trying to tell the mayor when she apparently refused to let him speak. 

Daniels said he is not sure how council and the mayor will find a common ground to work together.

“There is a lot the city needs to get done, including the new budget,” said Daniels. “We all need to sit together to get city business done.”

Another source of conflict among the council is the  City of Tool Volunteer Fire Department.

During a Town Hall meeting  at Oran White Center in Tool on Tuesday evening, Brickey said she had been “left out of the loop about the fire department.”

After surveying the citizens of Tool, the council voted not to dissolve the City of Tool Volunteer Fire Department.  According to the survey results, 70 citizens were in favor of retaining a city fire department, while 63 were in favor of dissolving the city fire department.

“The citizens want the fire department,” Brickley said during the town hall gathering. “We will make it the best we can.”

The city is currently protected by the Tool Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.  not to be confused with the City of Tool Volunteer Fire Department.

“The first thing needed is a fire chief,” said Daniels.

The mayor and the councilman indicated any citizen interested in the fire chief position for the City of Tool VFD should contact the City of Tool.

Daniels said, “It will be up to the fire chief to recruit volunteer firemen.” 

Teamwork and communicating don't always come easily among city council members in Tool. But some members are determined to make things work – for the citizens.  The next regularly-scheduled Tool City Council meeting is Thursday, July 17. 

The mayor said she was planning on hosting town hall meetings once a month.

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