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Wolfe, Fitzgerald get into heated debate at BMA meeting

A discussion about Jonesborough’s budget turned into a heated dispute between Mayor Kelly Wolfe and Alderman Jerome Fitzgerald at the June 14 Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.
The argument began when Fitzgerald expressed opposition to the new employee pay plan, which would raise compensation for town employees to more closely match that of other towns Jonesborough’s size.
The plan, which would cost Jonesborough about $120,000 over three years, has not been officially included in budget deliberations, as officials are waiting for final figures on both the plan and other outside factors in the budget such as healthcare costs.
Fitzgerald said his issues lie not with the standard 3 percent cost of living increase proposed, but with the built-in raises in the plan, which would be 3 percent of what the employees’ salaries should be as compared to other towns.
“I have a problem with the raises in the plan,” Fitzgerald said. “I also have a problem with the positions created in the budget.”
He called the new Director of Streets position “wasteful” and said there were things in personnel and in the way the raises were going out he “just didn’t like.”
When Wolfe pointed out the deliberations were not final, and approval of the plan was not guaranteed, Fitzgerald said, “I’m sure it’ll happen. You’ve got three votes right there.”
Wolfe brought up how the alderman had been opposed to creating the Operations Manager position, which Craig Ford now holds.
“I dare say the Operations Manager position has meant more to the function of this town, and added an increased productivity to this town in getting things done in this town as anything that I can remember in a long, long time ever doing,” Wolfe said.
Fitzgerald answered his issues was that the position was never advertised.
After the operations manager discussion, Fitzgerald said he was never informed about what’s going on in Town Hall.
“I never have any information about the Town…I’ve got a phone,” he said. “No one ever calls me.”
Wolfe suggested Fitzgerald serve on a committee to stay involved with the town.
Fitzgerald does not serve on any committees currently and resigned from the Sewer Task Force Committee after one meeting, saying Monday that he didn’t have to provide a reason other than he “just didn’t want to serve on it.”
“If you’re up here telling me that you’re not included in what’s going on in town government maybe you ought to look in the mirror as to the reason why,” Wolfe answered.
Fitzgerald then told Wolfe he was a “liar” and he was much more involved in the town than Wolfe knew.
“I think you’re a liar,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve served on this board since 1996. … If you want to serve on a committee, that’s fine. Don’t you sit there and tell me what I need to do.”