— By JUDY SHERIDAN
ANNETTA – The Annetta City Council deferred an agenda item to select a new city secretary Tuesday, deciding instead — as advocated by Mayor Bruce Pinckard — to give all the candidates an opportunity to introduce themselves to the town’s residents before making a selection.
The candidates — which currently include the City of Willow Park’s budget and financial analyst Candice Scott; Stacy Scott, who works in the oil and gas industry; Mike Abbott, who has a background in ministry and sales; and Jonelle Schuman, hired by Annetta in July as a part-time water billing clerk — were invited to speak at an open forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21, a half hour before the regular council session.
The council will discuss the candidates, and others who may apply, in executive session during the meeting.
The council also voted to increase Schuman’s compensation, following last week’s vote to make her position full time. Schuman’s duties have increased following the January resignation of former city secretary Daina Lawler, who cited both family reasons and a threatening work environment created by council members in her resignation letter.
The wage increase will end once the city secretary position is filled, according to a motion made by council member Larry Wood, which carried unanimously.
On the recommendation of council member Chuck Sheridan, the council also agreed to discuss the criteria required and the creation of official job descriptions for the positions of both city secretary and utility billing clerk at the next council session.
The city does not have a personnel policy, Pinckard said, and is working with “boilerplate” descriptions garnered from nearby cities.
Wood said he was not on board with hiring a full-time utility billing clerk — as outlined in a document for review — pointing out the current position is for 25 hours.
Council member Bruce Moore said he would like to amend the city ordinance about the city secretary position to include documentation from his or her supervisor.
“Definitely the city secretary works for the council but is directly supervised by the mayor,” he said. “I think there should be an annual report, an efficiency report, written by the mayor and approved by the council.”
Pinckard said he felt that would fit in the larger scope of adopting a personnel policy.
The council also deferred action on an expired contract with Blackboard Connect in order to answer questions about how the company’s fees are assessed.
Blackboard Connect is the system the town has used to contact residents — who opt to sign up — about water restrictions, temporary water system shutdowns and other issues.
Pinckard said the system, which relays information according to the user’s choice — through text messages, emails, phone calls or some combination — has 1,426 recipients, close to the town’s population.
One of the questions was whether a $2 charge for the service is assessed per individual or per device.
Another, from council member Rick Machak, was how the total amount paid is appropriated between water users and city residents.