A discussion over when to surplus and sell three of the city’s used vehicles, such as a “retired” ambulance, turned into a shouting match that saw two Ocean Shores City Council members abruptly leave the regular council meeting Monday night.
The heated exchange between Councilmember Ginny Hill and Mayor Crystal Dingler caused Randy Scott to bolt from his council seat, pick up his meeting binder and declare: “I’m tired of your petty bull …”
“It’s me?” Dingler asked.
“All of you,” Scott said as he left the Convention Center.
A few moments later, Hill also walked out, leaving only four members remaining. Jackie Farra was absent after a fall caused her to be hospitalized. John Lynn, Dan Overton, Gordon Broadbent and John Schroeder remained for the rest of the meeting, which included the 2015 budget priority list from Public Works Director Nick Bird.
The flare-up of tempers was set off when Hill explained that at a council agenda-setting session, it was decided to ask for a resolution to put the three vehicles now in the city’s Public Works yard up for surplus sale. She protested the mayor’s decision to change the request to “a discussion item, and now we’re being pushed at least two months down the line.”
“The money could have been back in the coffers instead of pulling more money out of the citizens’ pockets,” Hill said. “Seeing things sit in the yard not being used while people are buying new things is not acceptable to a lot of the citizens out there and it is not acceptable to me either. Especially when I was pretty well told to shut up the last time I brought this out that those things needed to be surplussed.”
Hill’s remarks caused Dingler to respond: “It is my job to run the city and your job …”
But Hill replied: “Don’t tell me my job.”
“You listen to me,” Dingler said. “My job is to run the city and if it’s on my head, it’s on my head. You’ve had your say. I don’t know what else to tell you. We can’t do these things overnight.”
Hill responded again: “Don’t tell me my job. My job is to handle the checkbook or help handle the checkbook. You should be moving forward on putting as much money back in as you can. And when you have vehicles sitting in the yard rotting, it should be your job to get those things sold and get the money back in the general fund.”
After Scott left, Dingler said there would be no public comment taken on the issue, moving on with the agenda and Bird’s presentation.
Dingler earlier acknowledged that she would check on how the city previously handled the process of deciding whether to surplus older equipment or reuse it.
“This is my first experience with having things that we can send down the line, because it’s my first time, since I have been mayor and since you guys (the council) have been here that we have actually purchased any vehicles,” Dingler said.
Hill noted the ambulance is one of three vehicles, including a used pick-up, “that have been sitting in the yard for over three months” after she brought the issue up previously. “They are still sitting there,” she said, adding it would have been easier to sell the vehicles during the summer months.
Dingler had explained that she felt it difficult to surplus the vehicles in a “short amount of time, and we have a lot of things that we want to surplus.” She suggested bringing forward a more comprehensive list of items the city plans to surplus to “do it all at once where we can kind of do this in an orderly manner.”
“We tend to do this twice a year, spring and fall,” Dingler said of the city’s need to surplus older equipment.
She did, however, also acknowledge that the vehicles have been in the yard over three months “waiting for their turn.”
To surplus an item, she added, also requires the city to go back and “find out where these items came from, and what was paid for them. If it’s a utility, we have to have a public hearing.”
Bird said city crew chiefs are currently looking at items “that could and should be surplussed. That’s something that is ongoing.”
Surplussing equipment, he noted, requires a two-week advertisement along with an additional week’s notice for a public hearing.
“I prefer to bring together a very large list and get everything surplussed and processed at hopefully a non-peak time for us,” Bird said.
Dingler told the council that city staff “we’re not prepared to do this quickly” concerning the resolution to surplus the three vehicles originally proposed for the Monday night meeting.
“We will be working on it, and I will give you guys status on where we are on this,” Dingler said, indicating it could be ready by the end of September.