New Council denies contract for Amite’s Public Works Director
AMITE—With zero discussion, the newly-installed Amite Town Council voted 3-1 Tuesday night to deny a contract extension for longtime town public works director Joe Dupuy.
In a tag-team effort, veteran Councilmen Jonathon Foster and Emanuel Sanders, along with freshman Councilman Kris Hart voted against the measure to accept Mayor Buddy Bel’s re-appointment of Dupuy for a four year term which would run through the end of 2020.
Councilman Neil Currier voted to accept Bel’s recommendation. Rose Sumrall abstained from the vote.
After the meeting, Bel told ActionNews17.com that he will personally keep Dupuy on in the public works department.
“He’ll work for me,” Bel said, adding that Dupuy’s extensive knowledge of the town’s utility system was critical, making the longtime employee indispensable.
Bel said that while there was talk that Dupuy would be considering retirement at some point during the term, the town could not afford to lose him without some kind of a transition period.
Zanders asked the council to consider naming one of the town’s public works employees, George “PeeWee” Bickford as the acting director; however, the mayor said that motion was out of order. He said that only the mayor has the power to recommend an appointee to the council.
The council did approve a number of town appointees, including Lee Gray’s office as the town auditor (unanimous vote); Charles Reid as city attorney (3-2 vote with Hart and Foster voting against); Brad Stevens as assistant city attorney (4-0 vote with Foster abstaining). Mary Lou Lee was also re-appointed as town clerk, with all appointees receiving four year terms.
Additionally, Foster was voted as the town’s mayor pro tem for a one year term. Foster’s appointment was unanimous; however, Foster himself abstained from the vote.
Afterwards, the council voted to table a measure from the mayor to set the salaries of these appointed members of the administration. Bel said the item would have to come up again at a special meeting; however, he said the council’s rules of order prohibit him from sponsoring the item under his agenda.
The council also introduced an ordinance by Hart to rename Palmetto Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. That measure will have to be advertised in the town’s official journal and go before a public hearing before the council can vote on the matter.
On his opening night as a Councilman, Hart also succeeded in having the council approve his motions to install a water park similar to Independence’s in Amite’s Butler Park and a digital message/information board in front of City Hall, just as was done in Independence. Hart also gained support for decals on all city vehicles and sidewalk improvements in his district; however, Bel told the freshman councilman that he will have to work directly with the administration to find funding for these projects.
The meeting, which ran approximately 45 minutes was well-attended by friends and supporters of the new officials, who were all sworn-in for new terms of office prior to the start of the meeting. 21st Judicial District Court Judge Jeff Johnson administered the oath to the new council, mayor, and Police Chief Jerry Trabona, who were all elected to terms of service running from now until the close of calendar 2020.