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Council challenged on pay, work issues

By Staff
SURVEYING THE SITE Scott Haywood, of Engineering Survey and Inspections, surveys the area where a new parking garage is expected to be built in downtown Meridian. The garage is one piece of downtown redevelopment efforts that include the Riley Education and Performing Arts Center, the Grand Opera House and the Marks-Rothenberg Building. The Meridian City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday night to authorize the purchase of property located on the city block where the garage will be built. City officials will host a public hearing at 1 p.m. Tuesday in the conference room at Union Station to discuss the design of the garage. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael/staff writer
Jan. 23, 2002
A longtime Meridian activist complained to the city council Tuesday night about run-down conditions of two city fire stations, saying both are in dire need of repairs.
Bill McBride said Fire Station Nos. 2 and 6 have drainage problems, paint peeling from walls and duct tape holding insulation in place. He also complained that city workers aren't paid enough.
To illustrate his point about low pay, McBride asked all city employees in the audience who were at the bottom of their pay scales to raise their hands. Nearly 50 did.
More than 100 people crammed the city courtroom Tuesday night for the Meridian City Council meeting.
Many were there to support newly appointed Police Chief Benny DuBose. The bulk of the crowd, about 70, were firefighters who attended the meeting in support of McBride.
McBride's appearance was his second in two months. The former mayoral candidate, who lost in last year's city elections, raised similar issues at the Dec. 18 council meeting.
On Tuesday as in December the council did not directly respond to McBride.
Ward 3 Councilman Barbara Henson said that the council was not required to respond to McBride because his presentation was not included on the council's routine agenda.
Many firefighters immediately left and would not comment outside the courtroom.
At issue: A city fire department in which many firefighters have complained about poor pay, inadequate training and bad working conditions. They also have complained that the fire chief received a 15 percent raise last year while they didn't.
Near the end of the city council meeting, Ward 5 Councilman Bobby Smith said he believes the council should "do something" for city workers who didn't get a raise.
Earlier, during his presentation to the council, McBride complained that councilmen never did respond to his comments last month.
McBride said he also was concerned about the city losing quality employees because of inadequate pay and a lack of administrative support.