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Warmath pitches curve at council meeting
Oct 23, 2012 4:30 pm
Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath threw a monkey wrench into the works Monday morning when she voted against funding half the pay of a patrol officer to work in Lebanon's Public Housing neighborhoods.
The Lebanon City Council held a special called meeting Monday at 7:30 a.m. in order to cancel the meeting originally set for Nov. 6, which is also Election Day. The early-morning meeting had just enough councilors present for a quorum with Councilors Rob Cesternino, Joe Hayes, Haywood Barry and Kathy Warmath in attendance and Alex Buhler and Kevin Huddleston absent.
The agenda included items set for a second reading, having passed on first reading Oct. 16. Among the items on the agenda was an ordinance to fund half the pay for a second officer to work in Lebanon's public housing neighborhoods.
While the council quickly passed the other six items on the agenda, including replacing a damaged headstone, approving funds for the final project costs of Cedar City Trail, approving buying a used vehicle for the wastewater plant and using a state grant for pavement repair.
When Mayor Philip Craighead read the proposed ordinance to approve the community-based policing agreement with the Lebanon Housing Authority to split the cost of a second officer to cover those neighborhoods, after three "yes" votes, Warmath said "no" without any other comment.
Lebanon police Chief Scott Bowen was the driving force behind having another officer assigned exclusively to public housing in light of the success of the first officer in that role. Speaking after he learned that the measure had failed Monday morning, Bowen said he would be speaking with Lebanon City Attorney Andy Wright about bringing the measure back before the council.
"We'll bring it back up," Bowen said. "It's obvious that five of the six councilors wanted it, and the funds are in the budget for it. It's disappointing, but it's not the end of it."
Craighead said Warmath's objection stems from a financial perspective, and delaying the passage of the measure will just delay the time when people in public housing will have another officer dedicated to keeping their neighborhoods safe.
"She thinks the federal government should pay for the whole thing," he said. "We can't lose the progress we've made in those neighborhoods."
Warmath said she doesn't think the people of Lebanon should be footing the bill for anything in a federal housing complex.
"The way I see it, I don't think the citizens/taxpayers should be subsidizing the federal government," Warmath said following the meeting. "I don't disagree that they need some additional resources in there."
She said federal housing was foisted on the city.
"I really have a problem with this. They put those projects here before our time and we had no choice but to take them," she said. "What they created is a nest of problematic issues for the folks who live there and the folks who come in and shouldn't be there."
Warmath also sees a slippery slope when it comes to paying for the officer to be assigned to public housing areas. She said with the first officer the city was paying for their car and equipment with Lebanon Housing Authority paying the officer's salary.
"Now we would be paying half," she said. "I've been told that the housing projects is a very lucrative business. I think they get incentives for occupancy. In no way should we be funding the government for something they should provide."
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 444-3952, ext. 45 or firstname.lastname@example.org.