June 28-- There's a deepening gulf between the mayor of Uvalda and the city council.
At a contentious city council meeting Monday night, councilman Lloyd Moses asked Mayor Paul Bridges to turn over computer system passwords he claims city employees need to get out city water bills.
"We requested that and we voted for that and as I understand it, that has not happened yet. I think you said you would turn them over but you have not done so yet. It works a great hardship. Employees are here to serve the people of the city and I just wonder when we're going to get these passwords turned over," Moses said.
Mayor Bridges says he has been responsible for getting the water bills done since the city obtained a computer system nearly two years ago from Atlanta programmer Allen Leggett. When the city council restricted his authority to oversee city employees last month, he ceased his involvement in the water billing including the use of his passwords to access the system.
"The integrity of the system is my concern. The information which is on the server is people's information which should be maintained at all times and that's the purpose of the passwords. I would be happy to train or teach anyone the programs we have. It's worked well since we've had it, the bills have gone out on time and they've been accurate," the mayor says.
Mayor Bridges claims city employees Laura Demmer and contract employee Johnny Corley, a former mayor and current councilmember, have been provided training in the past and have adequate passwords to do their jobs.
They told the council they need access to the system's server to do backups and to restart the system after power outages.
Mayor Bridges reported Wednesday that Leggett has agreed to provide Demmer with an administrative password and training Friday.
Meanwhile, the city council has another called meeting Monday night at seven to review the status of the current system and to consider replacing it with another system used by other towns in the area. The council has agreed city residents will not be charged a late fee because city water bills are going out late due to the confusion at city hall.
Councilmember Elaine Manning said after last Monday's meeting she hates to spend more money for another computer program because the mayor is not cooperating. She also claims inaction on his part could cost the city road improvements valued at $400,000 in the next ten years because he failed to submit projects for inclusion if the transportation sales tax referendum passes July 31. She also claims he has failed to follow through on grants totaling $45,000 for the police department.
Monday night's meeting had to be recessed for five minutes for a "cooling off period" after Mayor Bridges repeatedly banged his gavel for order and was threatened with arrest by Police Chief Lewis Smith for what the chief said was "disorderly conduct."