Meeting halted due to absent aldermen

Published 8:26 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2017

BELHAVEN — The Town of Belhaven’s regular scheduled meeting did not go as expected after only one Board of Aldermen member was in attendance.

Monday night’s meeting was the first since the board voted to move to one meeting a month, but only Mayor Adam O’Neal and Alderman Yvonne DeRuiz were present. No business was conducted, as the board did not have a quorum to vote on matters.

Items on the agenda included: attorney Wendel Hutchins’ opinion on Spoon River Artworks and Market’s decision to switch to another company for trash service; discussion regarding Mayor Pro-Tempore Greg Satterthwaite performing mayoral duties, such as signing paperwork; discussion on hiring a new auditor for the town; and a report on when meeting videos can be viewed by the public.

“At the first meeting in June, the town council, while I was out of town, voted to cut the town meeting back to 1 meeting a month. I was totally against this and voiced my opinion at the 2nd meeting in June. Only one meeting a month restricts the citizens’ access to the Council and slows town business,” O’Neal wrote in an email Tuesday.

O’Neal also said he believes the aldermen’s decision to not attend the meeting is an attempt to prevent him from speaking about the recent dilemma over trash service.

Arthur’s Community Mart owner Arthur Bonner approached O’Neal in January about being overcharged by $260 for trash services — the Town charged Bonner for three trashcans while he claimed to have only one.

The board voted 3-2 in March to not reimburse Bonner for the overcharges, as three aldermen agreed there was no way for the Town to know it was overcharging until Bonner approached town Manager Woody Jarvis months after the fact. Some town officials also believe Bonner was using three trashcans at the time.

“This shows you how dysfunctional the Belhaven town council is now,” O’Neal said Monday. “They went to one meeting a month, and now they won’t even come to one meeting a month. Think about that: have you ever heard of such?”

Satterthwaite said he was having back pain. Alderman Amos Wilson was reportedly out of town, and Alderman Ricky Credle said he was absent due to “family business.” The reason for Alderman Steve Carawan’s absence on Monday is unknown, as well.

There is no word on whether the meeting will be rescheduled.