Eaton elected council president

By: 
KATHLEEN GILLULY
Outlook managing editor

The regular business meeting of Laurel’s City Council lasted about one hour Tuesday evening. All councilors and the mayor were present. Emilie Eaton was selected on a unanimous vote to the position of council president for next year and Bruce McGee was likewise selected to serve as vice president.

Councilors rejected a resolution to abolish the salary matrix for the city judge, saying the matter would need to be revisited after the council reorganizes next month. They also voted against a resolution to accept a grant from the BNSF Railway Foundation for bicycles for an emergency patrol. Several councilors noted the grant had not gone through proper channels, may not pay for all needed equipment for the program and would only be used for a few events through the year. Council did pass a resolution authorizing the annual agreement with Beartooth RC&D for economic development support, 7-1, with Eaton voting against it.

At the tail end of the meeting, the mayor noted the council still needed to set a time for a special meeting to pass a resolution for a contingency plan in the event that Dave Waggoner decides to decline the mayoral position. Waggoner was elected Nov. 7, but because there are conflict-of-interest matters (as he is also a city employee) the mayor-elect was given the option of giving up his city job for the mayorship or declining the mayorship to keep his job.

Unfortunately, as Mayor Mark Mace said Tuesday, “Someone should have talked to him about this,” before he was elected. It wasn’t until after the election and Waggoner had won that council decided to address the issue. 

In an effort to show the city had done due diligence, City Attorney Sam Painter wrote a memo outlining efforts taken to inform Waggoner that city employees can’t also be mayor. In the memo, Painter incorrectly stated he had spoken to Waggoner when he had run for mayor during the last election in 2013. Prior to the 2017 election, Waggoner had never before run for mayor. The faulty statements made by Painter have no real bearing on the outcome of the election. For that, the city is relying on a 1998 Attorney General opinion on  a similar case, also cited by Painter in his memo.

Mayor Mace offered several dates next week for the special meeting, although no decision was made. The contingency plan has to be approved before the Jan. 2, council meeting when new members will be sworn in.

 

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