A surprise turn of events saw second reading of an ordinance that would have increased the salaries for the City Council and Mayor fail by a 3-4 margin during the regular meeting of Council on September 19.
Council passed first reading of the ordinance on August 15 by a 4-3 margin. Humes was the vote that sunk the measure the second time around when he joined Al Joseph, Carol Jayroe and Clarence Smalls in voting against the raise. While he said the raise is justifiable considering the work council members do, much of which the public may not see, he could not ask residents to pay him more money until he could be more influential in his role.
The main issue for Humes is a record of disrespect from the previous City Administrator as well as “a member of this body,” he said, referring to an unnamed member of City Council. Cary Smith had been serving as City Administrator since Paul Gardner resigned in February of 2018. Humes stated he has been attempting to get an issue on the agenda regarding mobile homes in the West End and has been denied that opportunity over and over again.
“If I’m not going to be respected enough to have that item added, I don’t feel like I’m doing my service to the people. How can I expect a raise?” Humes asked. “How can I put a burden on the taxpayer to pay me more when I’m not delivering what I said I was going to attempt to do. Until I can deliver that, that’s just how I feel.”
Humes’ issue is a change in the law that does not allow mobile homes on the West End. He said he understands issues of homes in disrepair.
“We don’t want to allow just anything,” Humes said.
However, if the homes are in good shape, he says the City should not dictate what type of home a person puts on their own property. This issue, he said, is one of the reasons he was the top vote getter in the most recent election.
Humes said the Smith claimed he kept forgetting to put the mobile home issue on the agenda. According to Humes, Smith stated that a lack of support from other City Council members was another reason for not granting Humes’ agenda request.
“When did we get into the business of polling over the phone?” Humes asked. “Council is not going to agree on everything but at least respect me enough to have it added to the agenda and let council decide.”
One of two people should not be making decisions in lieu of the Council, he added.
Humes contends that if he cannot get a simple item added to the agenda, then he should not be asking the public for a raise.
At least one hurdle may have been removed for Humes. The City is now operating with a new City Administrator. Sandra Yudice represented the City alone as the Administrator for the first time during this meeting. Time will tell if Humes gets to bring the West End mobile home issue before the Council.
“I’m going to keep trying to get this issue resolved,” Humes said. “I want to make a difference.”
The City Council is scheduled to hold its next regular meeting on October 17 at 5:30 p.m. at 2222 Highmarket Street.