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Council agrees to raise pay for city department heads

The Demopolis City Council failed Thursday to pass the fiscal 2004 budget.

A vote on the budget was on Thursday’s agenda, and Mayor Austin Caldwell recommended that the budget be approved as presented.

However, Councilman Thomas Moore asked for an executive session after the regular meeting to discuss personnel concerns.

The council went back into regular session and approved &045; against the wishes of Mayor Austin Caldwell &045; a three percent raise to all department head, according to City Clerk Vickie Taylor.

After deducting the department heads’ current salary from the current total of a specific department, an amount equal to three percent of the remaining amount will be used to give employees raises at the discretion of the department head.

The total of raises given in a department cannot exceed three percent of the department’s salary budget less the department head’s salary.

The council will hold a special meeting in the coming week to consider again the 2004 budget, Taylor said.

In other action from Thursday’s meeting, the city received a letter from S.T. Bunn Construction stating that 2003 street improvements have been delayed by the rainy weather. The company was hopeful the project would get underway Friday and pledged that the road project would be completed within the time allotted in the contract.

Mayor Caldwell reported that the offer for the city to purchase the West Alabama Health Center building for a proposed fire station/public safety complex has been accepted by the owners of the property. "It is now up to the bankruptcy court," the mayor said. "We feel reasonably sure that the bankruptcy court will accept the city’s offer."

It will be sometime in October before the city can begin work on the building.

The Alabama Communities of Excellence team will return October 2 to Demopolis.

The council approved a retail beer license for the Triangle Grocery on Maria.

Councilman Mike Baker stressed that there was 40 to 50 items of surplus equipment that needed to be sold. The equipment includes old police cars. "If we don’t need the equipment, we need to get rid of it," he said. The council voted to get rid of the surplus.

A resolution honoring the late Jean Sutton, managing editor for The Democrat Reporter newspaper, was signed by the mayor and all the council members.

Bids will be opened October 16 for construction of the Higher Education Center at the Demopolis SportsPlex.