Discussion over a sign ordinance and last week’s municipal election results led to heated arguments at the Milner city council meeting Monday night. A council member and a former council member who now is on the city’s fledgling ethics committee walked out in disgust.********************NOTICE:This story and photo(s) are under copyright. They may not be republished or disseminated in any form or format – including social media – without explicit permission.*********************The meeting opened with a discussion of Milner’s financial woes. Councilman Skip Seda noted pipe for a stormwater project the county is assisting with would cost $3500 and there were non-budgeted expenses forthcoming for patrol car repairs. Councilman George Weldon added the city could expect to pay up to $10,000 for work to increase water pressure in the city.”We need a way to come up with money,” Seda said. Weldon said there were 12 building permits in the pipeline that would generate income. “We can’t make money on permits,” Seda countered. “We can only cut expenses,” council member Vickie Smith added.Seda proposed council members take no pay or expense reimbursements. “If the law requires we be paid, we can be paid one dollar,” Seda offered. “I’m not coming up here for a dollar. I’ll give you a dollar to stay away,” Stephens countered.After discussion with city attorney Scott Mayfield, the council voted 2-1 to eliminate salary and expense payments for the mayor and council completely effective July 1 with Stephens opposed.Former councilmember Tracey Alford was called on to give the ethics committee report. “I was not prepared to speak. I gave all my notes to the GBI,” Alford replied. She serves on the committee with Maxine Gibson and Van Palmer.When pressed by Smith, Alford said Gibson had trouble hearing at their meeting but the committee officially found no wrongdoing on the part of the council regarding matters the sheriff’s office and GBI are now looking into.Alford was not done.”In my opinion, you took three innocent people and used us. We got questioned by the GBI the next day. The very next day. I feel like this mess was pushed off on us. I’m done with it,” Alford said. She then walked out for a time.The discussion migrated back to the sign ordinance and the fact Alford had to pay $65 to hang a sign honoring a graduate in front of her business. Many in attendance felt that was ridiculous.”Give the lady back her $65 and be done with it,” Stephens argued. He then made a motion to repay it which died for lack of a second. Mayfield, after researching the matter, said, “There is no exception for a graduation sign. There should be an exception for a graduation sign.”Milner police officer Jody Alford, husband of Tracey, told the council to forget the $65. Seda had previously asked Jody Alford to keep the crowd at the meeting quiet. “It seems pretty quiet to me,” he replied. Seda then insisted police chief Michael Bailey restore order.Once the council moved to public comments, Michael Floyd, a member of the zoning committee, spoke first. “I have a big problem with the election. Elections need to be fair. There are too many questions. There are too many red flags,” he said. He alleged the room where absentee ballots were kept at the county administration building was not secured.”Any sign I want to put in my yard is none of the city’s business and a $65 fee for a graduation sign is ridiculous,” Floyd added.”We pay for the election. People are concerned,” Seda said.Stephens had had enough and lashed out at Seda. “Quit trying to run this city. Why don’t you just sit back and be quiet for a change,” he said and then walked out.Not deterred, Seda countered, “We should demand the elections board meet with us and explain this.” Weldon agreed. “The elections board should answer to us. They need to fix the problem not kick it down the road,” he added.Next to speak was Andy Marlowe who, when the election week smoke had cleared, defeated Richard Smith, husband of Vickie, in the race for mayor of Milner. Marlowe noted the county not the state trains poll workers and those who tabulate votes. Speaking directly to Seda, he added, “The votes are what they are. If you don’t like it, there’s the door. You can get out.”Kiki Seda, father of Skip, also spoke out. “This is the worst city council I have ever seen in my life. It is like a third world country,” he said.Vickie Smith then made a motion the council move into executive session to discuss litigation and personnel. Mayfield shot down that idea, noting there was not a quorum present due to Stephens’ departure.
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