Grayson details plans, ideas for upcoming term

Published 10:32 pm Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When Demopolis mayor-elect takes office Nov. 3, he will have plenty to keep him busy for a while. On Mike Grayson’s long to-do list will be defusing an atmosphere of distrust and conflict that has prevailed throughout the previous administration of Cecil P. Williamson.

“There has been too much animosity and too many secrets,” said Grayson. “We need a new sense of openness within the city government and a cooperative relationship between the mayor’s office and city council.”

One issue facing Grayson even before he takes office will be starting over in the city’s search for an auditing firm. At the last city council meeting on Oct. 16, it was announced that Williamson hired a new auditing firm for tens of thousands more than the previous year.

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Without consulting the council, Williamson hired WilsonPrice, a firm out of Montgomery, for $47,000. Last year, the city hired a firm for nearly $18,000.

“I talked to WilsonPrice and explained to them the situation,” Grayson said. “There is no problem with the quality of the work they do. They are a very good firm, but we can not afford that much of an increase with our budget. Wilson Price was very understanding about it. They had read the story about the issue in the newspaper and realized they had been caught in the crossfire.”

Grayson said he has talked to several other firms who are now in the process of putting together bids for the contract. “We will get a good firm soon that we can afford. I am confident of that,” said Grayson. “Plus, there are a couple of areas we are going to do an in-depth audit of those departments even after the general city audit is done.”

The situations that led to this problem and others that have plagued the city government will be a thing of the past, says Grayson. “We have to develop a better sense of cooperation in city government and between the various city department heads. They want to work together. We all have one common goal – to make Demopolis a better place to live and work.”

“One of the first things I want to do is work towards hiring a permanent police chief,” said Grayson. We also need to reorganize the structure of the city departments and establish benchmarks and pay grades for our employees.”

Grayson stated that he wants to push towards the creation of a system in each department where pay raises and promotions are based on performance, job training, and seniority. “There has not been a standard system and that can be very frustrating for anyone looking to make a career out of working for the city,” Grayson said. “Hopefully with some changes, people will see investing into a career with the City of Demopolis as a good choice.”

Attracting opportunities for quality job growth outside of city government is high on Grayson’s agenda as well. “We have to get aggressive in marketing Demopolis in order to get jobs for this area,” Grayson said. “I want to rebuild and strengthen relationships on the state and federal level and promote the benefits Demopolis holds for new industry and expansion of existing industries and businesses.”

Grayson pointed towards the recent cooperative efforts between the city, county, and economic development as a sign for things to come. “This partnership will help bring new opportunities to the area and to Demopolis,” said Grayson. “We must fully get behind this new cooperative effort and continue to work together.”