BANGS — Bangs City Secretary Nan Billings said she wants to do the best job she can and wants what's best for the city.
Billings declined to comment on a council member's opposition to Billings' new pay rate as designated in the city's budget for the 2012'-13 fiscal year.
Council members took no action Tuesday night on an agenda item, put on at the request of newly elected councilman Larry Williford, to keep Billings as an hourly employee rather than a salaried one. Williford's proposal was to have her subject to a 2 percent pay raise and a 2 percent bonus, same as other city employees.
Council members voted 4-1 last month to approve the city's budget for the 2012-'13 fiscal year, and one of the budget's provisions is to place Billings on an annual salary of $45,000.
Williford cast the "no" vote on the budget, saying his opposition was based on Billings' "exorbitant" salary.
Billings has been paid an hourly rate that equals $36,441 in base pay, but she has been earning about $42,500 with overtime, Mayor Eric Bishop said earlier.
"I'm not opposed to Nan on anything," Williford, a CPA, said by phone Wednesday. Williford said, though, he thought Billings' overtime could be eliminated by shifting some of her duties to the only other employee at City Hall — a utility clerk.
City Administrator Leo Smith said Billings' overtime has come in part from her taking on the duties of municipal court clerk. That's not the only reason, Smith said. The city has not had a court clerk for about a year and a half, and the position has been eliminated from the 2012-'13 budget as a cost-saving move, Smith said.
At Tuesday night's meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Richard Perez made a motion to take no action on Williford's proposal, saying he was doing so on the advice of legal counsel.
Williford said that's because he had talked to council members Waymond Sheppard and Rick Phelps outside of a council meeting about the 2012-'13 budget as it pertained to Billings' pay, creating a "walking quorum." Smith said City Attorney Mark Bessent and a municipal consultant attorney have advised that if Williford, Sheppard and Phelps participate in any council discussion about Nillings' pay, they would be in violation of the Open Meetings Act.
Williford said his conversation with Sheppard happened after a budget hearing in the "coffee shop." Williford said he was talking to people about the budget when Sheppard came in and, Williford said, he began talking to Sheppard about Billings' pay matter.
Williford said he called Phelps later and talked to him about Billings' pay.
"If it's a mistake, it's a rookie mistake," Williford said.
Smith said he believes if Williford had only talked to one of the council members, that would not have been a problem. By talking to two council members, Smith said, that created a walking quorum. Sheppard and Phelps didn't do anything wrong, Smith said.
Sheppard, reached by phone Wednesday, confirmed Williford's account of the two men's conversation in the coffee shop. Phelps could not be reached for comment.