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CAROLINA SHORES — Town officials are mulling the possibility of replacing a town recycling center employee.
Waste Industries, which handles pickup of household garbage, yard debris and recyclables at the town recycling center, has offered to provide one of its own employees at the center upon request by the town.
Interim town administrator Julie Munday said at the Carolina Shores Board of Commissioners workshop Monday, Feb. 3, the offer had come after she and town maintenance supervisor Tom Donlon met Jan. 16 with Greg Brinkley, general manager for Waste Industries.
Brinkley said the person Waste Industries could provide would be responsible for operating the recycling center compactor and for providing “general direction” to residents. The town would continue to use its own staff to handle yard debris at the center.
Following lengthy discussion, the board opted to reconsider the matter at its upcoming annual budget retreat, tentatively planned for March 14 at town hall once it is approved at the board’s monthly meeting at 2 p.m. this Thursday, Feb. 6.
Town commissioners discussed whether current recycling center employee Jerry Franklin would “slide into” different duties if they decide to accept Waste Industries’ officer.
A number of town residents spoke out in Franklin’s behalf at the last town meeting Jan. 9. They took issue with Franklin being reprimanded after a resident complained Franklin had failed to provide proper assistance at the recycling center.
Donlon said at Monday’s workshop the department is “pretty well staffed now.”
Town commissioner John Manning said it’s up to Donlon as supervisor to make a determination where everybody should work.
“I don’t think we should find little places or holes,” he said. “If we’re going to take one away from what he was hired to do and try to shove him in the ditch (to do town maintenance work), it’s not going to work. If a man is not capable, let’s be honest, age is a factor in this, too.”
Fellow commissioner Greg Davis told Donlon it’s “your call. We don’t ever want to be a board that tells you how to do your job.”
Town commissioner John Russo said Franklin is on Donlon’s staff.
“Tom should have the authority to put him wherever he wants,” Russo said.
The town pays five people on the staff. If Franklin, whose $1,000 monthly salary is reimbursed by Waste Industries, comes back into the fold, “we would add his salary to our budget,” Davis said.
Manning said Waste Industries will provide an attendant who will only be responsible for pushing the compactor button and checking vehicles for stickers. The Waste Industries attendant would not make sure cardboard is broken down or that recyclables and yard waste are properly disposed of.
“So technically, we have Jerry doing that now,” Manning said. “Just so everybody is clear, Jerry does more than just push the button.”
Davis suggested a cost analysis.
“We don’t want to can anybody, but we don’t want to add any more to the budget,” he said.
During public comment, former town commissioner Gere Dale said Franklin does a lot of work at the recycling center.
“It makes no sense to me why in the world you would want to replace that individual with somebody from Waste Industries who is going to press a button, plus all the goodwill that Jerry brings to that area,” Dale said. “It’s absolutely ludicrous to me.”
If the board chooses to move in that direction, Dale predicted another outcry from residents.
“If you think women called you names last month, I can assure you you’re going to hear all kinds of four-letter words,” he said.
Town attorney resigns
The town will also be seeking a new town attorney.
Munday announced Holt Moore has taken a fulltime position as of March 1 and will no longer be able to serve as town attorney.
The board informally agreed to seek assistance from the Cape Fear Council of Governments and/or League of Municipalities.
Town commissioner Bill Brennan expressed concern about potential liability in the interim.
“You don’t want to wait till somebody’s suing you; there is a concern there,” he said. “You’re naked, as it were.”
Carolina Shores Mayor Walter Goodenough said he thinks the town should pursue options now.
“Four years ago, nobody was interested,” he added.
Manning said they can’t take somebody from another town. Davis suggested hiring someone on an as-needed basis.
Goodenough said he also doesn’t think he wants anyone representing communities within the town to be the town’s attorney.
The board also indicated it will not extend the service of Mary Barton, who has been working for the town through the United Way Senior Aides program.
Her volunteer contract through United Way will terminate March 1.
Barton had requested to continue working for the town through Dec. 31.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.