Stanford council member objects to executive session

Published 1:43 pm Thursday, October 25, 2018

Council approves purchase of four police cruisers

STANFORD — The Stanford City Council held two public meetings last Thursday night, with the first meeting’s executive session lasting about an hour — causing the second meeting to start later than the originally proposed time.

The first meeting’s agenda included an executive session to discuss “proposed or pending litigation” but not all city council members agreed the closed session was necessary.

Acting City Attorney John Hackley said the reason for the executive session was to discuss a “threat of litigation.”

City Council member Peggy Hester objected to the executive session.

“I’m not sure we have legal right to go in under a threat,” Hester said.

Hackley said “proposed” litigation would include a threat of litigation.

Council member Naren James said the state law exists so that cities can discuss pending litigation as well as personnel issues in private.

“That is actually serving the best interest of the citizenry because if the city gets sued, and we get a pay out, you are going to pay it. All of us are going to pay it,” James said.

“If we start getting into why (and) what litigation, we’re basically getting into what we need to discuss in executive session.”

The public deserves to know any action that is taken as a result of the private discussion, James added.

Stanford resident Larry Nunemaker asked why the city was entering into executive session if it planned to return to the open meeting to take action or discuss what occurred in the private session.

Hackley said that was not the intention of the council.

The council voted to enter executive session, with Hester voting against the motion.

The executive session also included a quorum of members of the City Planning and Zoning Commission as well as the city’s Code Enforcement Officer Jeff Knouse and members of the Code Enforcement Board. The private session lasted about an hour, causing the second public meeting to begin later than the originally proposed time of 6:30 p.m.

The council did not take any action following the executive session.

The council did, however, take action on the second item on the 6 p.m. agenda, which was to purchase four new police cruisers and accept the low bid from First Southern National Bank to finance the purchase.

Stanford Mayor Eddie Carter said he bid the financing of the four cruisers out to three banks including Farmer’s National Bank, PBK Bank and First Southern National Bank (FSNB).

Carter said FSNB returned the lowest bid with an interest rate of 3.2 percent, locked in for five years. Carter said quarterly payments can be made and there is no penalty for paying off the total amount before the five-year period is over.

“By far the best rate out there that I’ve found,” Carter said. “I think we should try to do business at home, they support us.”

The other bids were interest rates of 3.99 percent from PBK Bank and 4.40 percent from Farmer’s National Bank.

“The trend is interest rates are going up,” Carter said.

The four Dodge Chargers will be purchased from Freedom Dodge through a state contract, the mayor said.

“That’s the lowest price you can get them anywhere,” Carter said.

Carter invited Police Chief Zach Middleton to the front of the room to discuss the need for the cruisers.

“Four (cruisers) is what we approved in the budget,” Middleton said. “We also have the grant in to get another Durango.”

Middleton said the cruisers will be under a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty.

The cruisers will be painted and equipped after the purchase by L&W Emergency Equipment in Danville, the police chief said.
Council member Scottie Ernst asked how much of the 2018-19 budget was set aside for the purchase of four cruisers.

Middleton said about $77,000 was budgeted under capital outlay in the police budget but that also includes the grant money for the Durango, as well as other police equipment.

Carter said the loan for the four cruisers is $90,320 and the cost for painting and equipping the vehicles will be about $6,000 each, or $24,000 total. The city will make payments of a little over $6,000 per quarter, he said.

The council unanimously approved the motion to finance the purchase of the four cruisers through a loan from FSNB with an interest rate of 3.2 percent that will be locked in for five years.