Lake Park city council member walks out of meeting

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LAKE PARK — A council member walked out of Lake Park’s city council meeting Tuesday, preventing the council from going into executive session.

After the meeting, June Yeomans said she left before the council could convene an executive session over the question of reducing a city employee’s pay.

Under Georgia law, city councils can invoke an executive session — meeting out of the eyes of the public — for only a very few reasons, one of which is to discuss personnel matters. The council cannot take a vote during executive session; the mayor and council members must take all votes publicly.

By leaving early, Yeomans left the council without the necessary quorum for voting.

“I felt that this matter should be decided by the new council,” she said. Elections on Nov. 2 mean two new members will be joining the city council soon.

Council member Thomas Barr said the subject of the would-be executive session would have involved two city employees and pay scales.

Barr said he was unaware of a council member preventing an executive session in this manner before. Neither Barr nor Yeomans went into details about the pay scales case, other than Yeoman’s comments that she opposed a move to lower the worker’s pay and that “they always outvote me anyway.”

In other business, council discussed the proposed closings of railroad crossings at Clayton and Essa streets.

The Norfolk Southern railway has been in discussion with the council for two years about the possible closings, said Connor Spielmaker, a spokesman for the railway.

“We have identified some of the least-used crossings, and Clayton and Essa Streets are two places we can make safer with minimal disruption,” Spielmaker said. “With two less crossings, that means less opportunity for an incident to occur.”

The two sites are low-use and there are other crossings nearby, he said.

The council discussed holding a public hearing about the proposed closings but set no definite date.

The council also failed to make appointments to two boards — the Board of Zoning Appeals and the MPO Citizens Advisory Committee — due to a lack of volunteers.

Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.

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