Declares May ‘Motorcycle Awareness Month’
By David Webb
TOOL–Longtime civic leader Leland Pitts is no longer the mayor of Tool..
The council accepted Pitts’ letter of resignation at its regular monthly meeting April 18. Pitts did not attend the meeting, and the letter was faxed to city hall.
The letter was the first item on the council’s agenda, and mayor pro tem A.J. Phillips praised Pitts for doing an “outstanding job while he was here.” Phillips noted that Pitts, who served on the council more than once in the past dozen years, “would be missed.”
Pitts’ letter attributed his “untimely resignation” to the demands of his job at Citizens State Bank, where he is vice president. “Due to time constraints and additional demands at Citizens State Bank, it has become increasingly difficult for me to devote the time and energy to the position of mayor the city deserves and requires,” Pitts wrote in the letter.
Phillips asked for discussion and a vote on the agenda item with a “heavy heart,” and council member Nathan Reeder said he would “reluctantly” make the motion for a vote. “This is the one thing I don’t like at all,” Phillips said. There was no other discussion.
Pitts, who served as the mayor in 2000-01 and council member in 2007-08, took over as mayor in February 2011, after mayor Mike Black committed suicide. Pitts said then that he did not want to be mayor, but that he would step in to help the shaken city at the request of the council. The council voted him in as mayor in a special meeting.
It was the second time for Pitts, whose mother recently died, to attempt resignation from his job as mayor in the past year. In May 2012 he resigned, then rescinded the resignation before the council could vote on it. Pitts said he decided not to resign at that time because of residents asking him to reconsider.
At the time, Pitts said his public service work had become a burden after another council member reportedly confronted him at the bank with a raised voice and had to be asked to leave. He noted at the time he considered the city in “turmoil,” and that was part of his reason for deciding to remain as mayor.
In possible reflection of the turmoil Pitts’ referenced last year, one of several residents attending the recent meeting complained to council members that she wanted to know more about how the city is spending money and how much it owes. “We’re living beyond our means,” the woman said. “We’re trying to survive out here on our Social Security checks.”
Phillips suggested that she attend the city’s next budget meeting, and he also told her that she was “welcome” to run for public office and help do some of the work now facing the council.
For the time being, the council will be operating with one seat vacant. The city charter calls for a mayor and five council members. Phillips will preside as mayor pro tem in the absence of a mayor. The next scheduled city election is in November.
In other business, council members:
• approved the purchase of 2013 Legend gooseneck trailer for $6,970 for the maintenance department to replace one that was stolen from city property. The city received a check for $1,859 from insurance proceeds on the old trailer to help with the purchase.
• renewed the city’s balloon note on its motograder in the amount of $45, 895 at 5 percent interest at Citizens State Bank. Council member Nelson Wright suggested the city “shop” for a better interest rate, but other members said they were satisfied that they currently had a “good deal.”
• proclaimed May as “Motorcycle Awareness Month.”