The Trion Town Council voted 3-2 on Thursday evening to go against the wishes of Mayor Larry Stansell and the advice of Town Attorney Albert Palmour and reversed their decision to establish their own Economic Development Authority.
Mayor Larry Stansell, believing that the new authority was a “done deal” had a white board in the council room for last night’s meeting with the names of all the people who had been asked to serve on the new Authority. The mayor had even invited many of those who were being considered to serve on the new board to the meeting last night. The mayor was prepared for the council to select from the list of names of people who were willing to serve, but before the council could get to that order of business, they decided to cancel out their December vote to establish the Authority.
After Mayor Stansell told the council that they needed to select members for the new Authority, Councilman Mickey McGraw made a motion to reverse the decision to establish the Authority. McGraw said, “I made a New Year’s resolution that I am not going to vote in favor of anything that is handed to me the night of a meeting.” McGraw went on to explain his position saying that at the December meeting, the council voted to establish the Economic Development Authority and that they were not thoroughly informed about the Authority before that vote. McGraw had reservations about how much power the new Authority would have and how the Town Council would work with the new Authority.
Mayor Stansell was visibly upset with McGraw’s motion and broke meeting protocol by not waiting for a second to McGraw’s motion before he launched into an explanation of why it was imperative that the council act last night on appointing members to the new Authority. The Mayor said that time was of the essence and that their were 100 new, good-paying jobs at stake if the council didn’t act immediately on the new Authority.
Councilwoman Becky McWhorter then made a second to McGraw’s motion saying that she agreed that the council had not been well-informed before the December vote to establish the Authority. At that point, Town Attorney Albert Palmour began reiterating the necessity of the council acting on the Authority and attempted to address some of the concerns of the council about the new Authority and urged the council to go into executive session to discuss some specific questions. McWhorter said, “I think it needs to be made clear, that all of this was put on us in December, and the mayor wasn’t even at the meeting…..we voted on it …it had to be done…urgency, urgency. We went home and reviewed it and that is when all the questions came up.”
After the second to the motion, Mayor Stansell said, “This was brought up in December. Y’all voted on it in December. You have had from December to now to research…..and make a decision by now. It’s been a month.”
Those opposing the December vote were not swayed by Mayor Stansell nor the town attorney.
When a vote was taken, McGraw, McWhorter and Councilwoman Linda Ingle all voted to reverse the December decision to establish a new Economic Development Authority. Councilmen Jeff “Fro” Wilson and Don Harris voted against the idea.
The council then quickly moved through the rest of the night’s agenda, approving a memorandum of understanding between Mount Vernon Mills and the Town of Trion regarding costs at the waste water treatment plant.
Mayor Stansell declared the proceedings over without asking for a vote to adjourn the meeting and quickly retreated to his office. Councilman McGraw told AM 1180 after the meeting that he wanted it to be clear that he was not opposed to the Town of Trion having their own Economic Development Authority, but that he still has unanswered questions about the new Authority. Councilwoman McWhorter echoed McGraw’s sentiments saying “We aren’t against economic development and new jobs, we just need more time to make sure we are making the right decision.”
The subject is likely to be on the agenda for next week’s regular Town Council meeting.