Tuesday, December 21, 2010

TOP STORY > >Cabot passes budget with a new member

Leader staff writer

Cabot’s $9.7 million budget for 2011 passed 8-0 with no discussion Monday night. That full-council vote was possible because Angie Armstrong Hoschouer, elected last month to her deceased father’s seat on the council, was sworn in to complete the last month of his term.

The one-month appointment was unnecessary because a 7-0 vote would have been more than sufficient to approve the budget. But on an evening that was mostly about recognitions, it was a way to acknowledge Ward 3, Position 1 Alderman Tom Armstrong, who died in mid November after a two-year battle with cancer.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams presented Hoschouer with her father’s name plate and then put hers in place in front of her seat.

“I’ve got a problem with a pothole (in Hoschouer’s ward),” he joked. “And I’m sure there is a barking dog.”

Cabot Clerk-Treasurer Marva Verkler, who is retiring at the end of the year and is currently on medical leave, was honored at a reception before the council meeting.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams thanked Verkler during the council meeting for serving the city for 25 years during the administrations of five mayors.

Alderman Lisa Brickell, who completed a degree in education and got married while serving four years on the city council, did not run for a third term.

Alderman Eddie Cook, who came in third in November in a three-way race for mayor, served eight years on the city council. During the last four years, he was chairman of the budget and personnel committee. Williams thanked him for his service and pointed out that because of his hard work, the budget was never delayed.

“Probably one of the most difficult things to do is put a budget together,” the mayor said.

Williams has become known for his plaques such as the ones he presented most months during the past four years to residents who performed a “random act of kindness.”

On Monday he presented plaques to Cook and Brickell, who will not return in January. Then Brickell, almost too emotional to speak, gave one to Williams.

“You came in and it wasn’t such a great deal but you made it a good deal,” Brickell said, referring to the turmoil the city was in when Williams took office.

The city was in debt and barely able to make payroll and morale at city hall was not good. Verkler had been stripped of most of her duties during the previous administration and communication among employees was poor.

Her duties were restored under Williams. He also laid off employees that he deemed unnecessary which cut payroll enough to save about $100,000 most months.

“It’s been the shortest four years and probably the greatest four years of my life,” the mayor said, adding that in that time, he had never even threatened a veto and that most council votes were unanimous.

Williams did not run for a second term as mayor. Instead, he ran as a Republican for state senator in Dist. 28, easily defeating Lenville Evans more than two to one.

Mayor-elect Bill Cypert signed off on the 2011 budget before it was passed. And in deference to him, Williams tabled an appointment to the planning commission so Cypert could have input into the choice.