Tenaha City Council Revisits Jan. 25 Meeting in Early February; Chief, Police Captain Resign

February 22, 2021 - The Tenaha City Council held a meeting February 8, 2021 to revisit items previously discussed in the January 25, 2021 meeting as several items weren't appropriately voted on following council motions.

Both meetings included lengthy executive sessions. Following the February 8 executive session, the council voted to accept resignations of the Chief of Police Bobby Linder and Captain William Denison.

A motion carried to accept the resignations of both officers, and left the department with one officer, Chris Benton.

In both letters of resignation submitted by the officers they cited a "hostile work environment" and "fear of retaliation" from certain council members and a constant "break in the chain of command." 

The council revisited five items from the January 25 meeting agenda to resolve issues involving voting on the items. In some instances there was a motion and a second; however, there was not a vote to carry the item.

The council discussed moving $17,879.14 from one account to another to pay First National Bank Wichita Falls for loan number 66879 during the January 25 meeting. 

"We have to do something, we be broke," said Durand Steadman, Alderman. Florance Adams said she already told him they were broke and Steadman responded, "We ain't broke yet, we got $185,[000] we fixin' to get broke I'm gonna cash that joker in."

During that meeting a motion was made by Florance Adams to pay the $17,879.14 that the city owes to First National Bank Wichita Falls out of the city Improvements account and to check into how much it will cost to pay off the police department vehicles, and how much would be saved.

Adams motion was seconded by Linda Vickery and Steadman stated his vote was nay. Mayor Michael Ramsey stated, "What we got, 4-1?" followed by silence from the remaining members, and he said, "Okay."

When the February 8 meeting returned to this same item a vote reflected Adams and Vickery in favor of the payment while Steadman reiterated his original vote of nay, Lee Gibbs voted nay and Craig Gray also voted nay.

This resulted in the motion then failing.
The other agenda items which each received a favorable vote included approving the November 2020 Financials; December 2020 Financials; award contract to vendor for the delivery of emergency services equipment through CDBG FAST Grant 7219256 and Order an Election to be held on May 1, 2021 for the purpose of electing (3) Three City Council Members; Place 1, Place 4 and Place 5.

In discussing the financial reports, Gray asked about the city's settlement payment of $79,603 and from what account it was being paid. Amanda Treat, City Secretary, explained that money was being paid out of the city Improvements account.

At the time of the January 25 meeting, there was $215,444.34 in the Improvements account which after the transaction of $79,603 left $135,840.41. Treat stated the only other fund is money set aside for water meters, and Steadman agreed the city need not draw on that money for anything else.

Gray asked about the Rainy Day fund, and Treat stated the money remaining in that fund is for state fees. Vickery explained the city was getting behind on paying the state fees and began just setting the money aside to pay the fees and not incur interest penalties.

After paying the $17,879.14 the city would still owe a total of $125,000 for all of the vehicles to be paid over two years.

Gray asked when the next payments on the other three vehicles are due.

"The next three would be right at $69,000 and I believe they're due in June," said Treat.

Gray stated it looks like June would do them in and Steadman said they're transferring $20,000 every month to make payroll.

The council considered the value of the police cars and discussions suggested they would take a loss on the vehicles if they could sell them.

Chief Linder was not with the police department at the time the city purchased the vehicles, and neither were the majority of the council members. Chief Linder explained his understanding of the equipment in the vehicles was the vehicles themselves were used to finance the equipment.

Mayor Ramsey stated he had reviewed the equipment in the cars and one radar gun was valued at around $5,000.

"Whoever did that, yeah they did a good job on that was fine as long as you ain't paying for it," said Ramsey.

Gray asked if the city is entitled to anything in COVID relief funding that would help. Chief Linder explained there is potentially something the city will be able to apply for.

"The last email I got, we possibly could look at $53,000 and it could only go to their salaries," said Treat.

Although there is a possibility the city can receive some funding to help with police officer salaries, the city is facing several major expenditures.

The city will be considering approval of paying loan(s) no. 66493, 66494, 66492 and 66879 to First National Bank of Wichita Falls for (4) 2018 Chevrolet Tahoe’s Police Fleet during their meeting February 22, 2021.