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    City council members walk out of Alexander meeting

    7:21 AM, Jan 15, 2013   |    comments
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    ALEXANDER, Ark. (KTHV) -- Tensions ran high at the first city council meeting of the year in Alexander, ending with two newly elected council members walking out.

    The meeting was constant banter between new council members and newly appointed Mayor Michelle Kidd. For six of the seven council members present, it was their first city council meeting since being voted in last November. The two hour Monday night meeting was full of discussion about the city's financial situation which eventually led to two council members walking out.

    "There is just $1,200 in the bank. That's just the facts," said Alexander City Treasurer Joanne Churchill in reference to the Alexander Police Department's bank account.

    Churchill told council members the Alexander Police Department does not have enough funds to pay its officers the next pay period or pay for debts they've already incurred. It is one of several city departments that are in major financial trouble. She said for months she had warned the previous council of the city's financial problems but was ignored.

    Newly elected city council member Juanita Wilson suggested firing one city employee to cut costs.

    Treasurer Churchill said that employee was needed to fully operate the office at city hall and Mayor Hobbs agreed. That is when Wilson and Alderman Dan Church, two of the six new council members, walked out.

    "I saw we weren't getting anything done. We weren't going to get to vote on anything. We were told by the Mayor it was going to be more or less her way or the highway," said Wilson.

    The newly appointed Mayor Michelle Kidd Hobbs took the place of recalled Mayor Paul Mitchell.

    Mayor Hobbs told THV 11 off camera certain council members had planned to vote Mitchell in to fill a vacant council seat left open by council member Henry Tacket, who resigned due to health problems. She said the plan to vote Mitchell in was crafted by an illegal meeting that did not include all members of the council.

    "You all got together last week. First of all, the media wasn't notified. Secondly, I was in the office all day, and no one said anything to me. Everything that was done in that meeting is now null and void," said Mayor Hobbs to the council.

    Former Mayor Paul Mitchell attended Monday night's meeting but did not have anything to say during public comment.

    When THV 11 asked Juanita Wilson about the plan to vote Mitchell on the council, she said it was not a plan at all, but she would support his appointment.

    Alexander's next city council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb.18.

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