MAYFLOWER — Aldermen reluctantly passed a resolution that would allow the mayor to establish a $200,000 line of credit to keep the city running during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Before the resolution was revised, several council members did not approve the financial stability resolution because it included a provision that allowed Mayor Randy Holland to use sales tax revenue to help fund depleting accounts and toward other needs.
The half-cent sales tax previously passed by Mayflower residents was not earmarked for a specific purpose when it was voted in. The city’s mayor said he now plans to use that money to help offset accounts that are lacking along with establishing a line of credit to create a sense of financial stability for the city. However, several alderman opposed the resolution as it was because they did not feel it was their place to control the mayor’s duties.
Alderman Andrew Pelkey was first to oppose the resolution in its original form.
Aldermen Brian Williams and Jennifer Massey also opposed the initial wording and said the section pertaining to reallocating sales tax funds was not a decision that should be up to the Mayflower City Council.
“I don’t have a problem with having a $200,000 line of credit,” Williams said during the council’s regularly-scheduled meeting Tuesday night. “When I first read this first section, my thoughts were ‘we don’t have to give you permission to do that.”
Dale Carter, the city’s financial director, said it was important for the council to approve the line of credit due to a drastic decrease in revenue streams during the global coronavirus pandemic.
Sales tax revenues are down, and the city’s financial director said he expects them do drop by 25 percent.
“It’s affected March and April,” he said. “We thought we would have a little bit of a spike because of quarantining and because of people hoarding, but [sales tax revenue] is $3,000 below normal.”
Including the provision regarding the reallocation of a sales tax was for transparency purposes and did not have to be in the resolution itself. Carter said including it was a way to let residents know what city officials planned to do with the sales tax money that has been used to help fund the police department.
Mayflower Chief of Staff Barbara Mathes said the city wanted to include the sales tax provision to warn the council and residents ahead of time that the reserve fund these monies are currently helping to beef up will not be as sizable as expected after the sales tax money is rerouted from the account. Some of the money collected through the sales tax is used boost the city’s reserve fund and to save up for matching grant opportunities.
Following the discussion, the council voted 4-2 (with Pelkey and Massey voting against it) for the resolution. Once they realized they had not made a motion to strike the sales tax provision, two other council members repealed their votes.
When two of the council members voted against the resolution, Holland turned toward Pelkey and asked: “Why would you vote against something that would be essential to the city.”
Pelkey replied in saying the wording of the first section did not “sit right” with him. At this point, the city council unanimously decided to re-vote after amending the proposed resolution.
Following the second vote, the council unanimously approved allowing the city to establish a $200,000 line of credit during the pandemic.
In other business, the Mayflower City Council approved the police department’s request to purchase a new patrol vehicle and also appointed resident Curtis Lovell to the planning commission.
The purchase request that will allow the Mayflower Police Department to enter a purchase contract up to $27,000 for a 2018 Dodge Durango passed with a 5-0 vote. Pelkey voted against the request, adding that he felt the timing for the purchase “was bad.”
Prior to the council meeting, the city announced via social media those attending the meeting would be required to wear a face mask and also practice social distancing while inside the city center. The majority of the city council members, along with the mayor, wore masks.