By Bobbie Poynter
Barbourville Mayor David Thompson threw down the gauntlet at the year’s first city council meeting.
After apologizing to those people who he believed had been wronged during the last administration, the mayor got down to business.
The mayor asked that two unpaid retainers and a part of an unpaid bill for the late Charley Green Dixon be paid. Board members, old and newly-elected, said they were all unaware of the unpaid bills and unanimously voted to pay them.
“The city is not going to welch on its obligations,” said Councilman Sherman Lawson.
“I’d like to publicly apologize for this,” added Councilman Ronnie Moore.
Mayor Thompson told everyone of his meeting earlier in the week with Barbourville City Attorney Chris Mills, and the two men have come to an agreement to help lower the city’s legal fees.
On behalf of the Barbourville Police Department, the mayor asked the council if they knew why the department has to run with less officers than ever before.
Police Chief Winston Tye explained that officers who have retired have not been replaced, nor have officers, like himself, who have been promoted. At the present time, one of his officers is out on medical leave and may not be able to return to work. Subsequently, the department’s two detectives have been returned to the streets, leaving no one with the time to investigate cases.
“We have the need, but not the money,” he told the council.
“Do we want to go back to what we had (meaning a working police department investigating and solving cases) or do we want to stay on this path?” the mayor asked.
Sherman Lawson spoke up. “This police department is one of the best trained forces in the state. It’s all about what the budget will allow. Taxes have been dropping, and without taxes, the city can’t run.”
Councilwoman Wilma Barnes offered to give her city council stipend to the police department if they thought it would help.
“You can’t send one man out to do two or three men’s jobs,” she said.
The council agreed to look hard into getting the police department more officers.