The election of someone to serve as part of the town’s governing body implies that residents are placing their full trust in that person’s ability to help conduct the town’s business.
Residents in Roseboro have proven their trust in one board member, re-electing him as commissioner in last November’s election. That commissioner’s attendance to monthly board meetings is now being questioned.
Commissioner Cary Holland has been absent from seven of the board’s last nine meetings, including special-called meetings. According to Holland, those absences in no way indicate his failure to do what is best for the town.
Citing personal reasons and a conflicting schedule, Holland said his duties as a commissioner extend beyond the scheduled meetings held at town hall. During a telephone interview, Holland said he continues to work for the town, even at times his constituents and fellow commissioners may fail to realize.
“I want to get things done and do what is best for the town,” Holland shared. “I am busy working behind the scenes, more now than ever, making sure the needs of the town are met.”
While Holland may not take credit for much of the work he has done, town employees say Holland is like a well-oiled machine, having been instrumental in getting work done for the helipad’s completion, fire department and waste water treatment plant.
“It’s important for me to continue getting stuff done for the town,” Holland said.
According to Roseboro mayor Alice Butler, the town of Roseboro does not have an attendance policy pertaining to commissioners. When asked about the town’s requirements for attending meetings, Butler referred to local government law for the answer.
A governing board may establish a policy or practice regarding absences, but there is no legal requirement or authority to remove someone from a board because of their excessive absences. Board members are paid a monthly stipend to serve as commissioner, and according to Roseboro town clerk Tony Blalock, that stipend does not come from just meeting attendance, but rather all the work that is required of commissioners behind the scenes and during the “off hours.”
“Commissioners are paid monthly for their service,” Blalock said. “It has nothing to do with how many meetings we hold or other services they provide directly or indirectly. That would include citizen questions or complaints. I am in contact with the commissioners for advice and historical perspective, all the time. Their compensation is a fixed amount regardless of the meeting schedule.”
Roseboro’s monthly stipend, according to Blalock, is $183.67.
According to information obtained from the University of North Carolina School of Government, there is no statutory authority for removal or sanctioning of elected city or county governing board members. In the event that an ethics code or other locally adopted policy requires regular attendance at board meetings, such a provision should be viewed as a standard to strive for, but not one that can be enforced. Boards can adopt a resolution that would reprimand a commissioner for excessive absences, but the board can not remove the absent board member.
Butler, who says she feels the board is continuing to do what is best for the town, didn’t say whether or not she felt there should be a policy in place addressing the attendance requirements for board members.
“As the mayor, I am very pleased with how the town is running,” Butler said. “The Board of Commissioners all work well together and our meetings are very productive. Our employees are working diligently to serve the town and its citizens. Roseboro continues to move in a positive direction.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.