Monday, 16 December 2019 15:56

Moore sparks Hamlet council debate with plaque switch; Christmas bonuses approved

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Terry Moore, former chief of the Hamlet Police Department, is sworn in as a City Council member Dec. 10. Terry Moore, former chief of the Hamlet Police Department, is sworn in as a City Council member Dec. 10. Amy Guinn - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — In an unusual start for a freshly sworn City Council member, Councilman Terry Moore took his seat and swapped his official name plaque with one that read “The Citizens of Hamlet.”

Moore had just been sworn in, along with Maurice Stuart and fellow new member Oscar Sellers, following last month’s election.

The immediate response from Mayor Bill Bayless was to inform Moore he could not switch the name plaques. When Moore insisted, Bayless called a recess to discuss the matter.

After coming back, Bayless asked for a vote concerning whether Moore needed to have the same plaque as the other members — one with his name, not something else.

Councilman Jesse McQueen said he thought the council needed to be “uniform” in the name plaques and wanted to “prevent future issues.” 

Moore asked if “there is something offensive about this?” 

A motion was made to have all name plaques displaying names only; the vote was 3-2.  Moore and Sellers were the two “No” votes.

When asked after the meeting about his bringing his own name plaque, Moore responded that he had told the council that he was going to bring it and he was not told he could not then. He indicated someone should have told him at that time it would not be something he could do and he wouldn’t have.

Traditionally, Christmas bonuses for the full- and part-time employees are discussed at the December meeting. Although not a previously budgeted expense, the council has felt since December is mid-year for the city budget and pending a good report from the city auditor, it is appropriate to talk about bonuses.  

Sellers questioned the bonuses since they had not been in the budget. McQueen explained that bonuses have been handled this way for the last several years. Last year the amount given was $200 for full-time employees and $100 for each part-time employee, which falls in the range of $20,000-$25,000. The employees did not get raises last year, which adds weight to the argument that bonuses would be appreciated.

Stuart said the council should “show them some gratitude, our city employees are … the real MVPs.”

McQueen added that “departments have chipped in and helped each other,” inferring this team attitude deserved a reward.

The bonuses were voted on and approved.

Also sworn in was Bayless for a third term as mayor, Gail Strickland as city clerk and T.C. Morphis as city attorney. McQueen was reappointed as mayor pro tem, and Stuart was appointed as the council representative to the ABC Board and reappointed as representative to the Lumber River Council of Governments.

The Hamlet City Council meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 201 W. Main St. Hamlet.