PRINCEVILLE — During a special-called closed session meeting Thursday night, the Princeville Commissioners voted to eliminate the town clerk and public works positions. Former Town Clerk Tara Lloyd and Public Works Personnel Fred Crowell Jr. have been placed on administrative leave, Town Manager Victor Marrow said this morning. "They (town clerk and public works positions) were either eliminated or consolidated, the two positions," Marrow explained, "as part of a reduction in force. It had nothing to do with performance and everything to do with the town's need to reduce expenses before the end of the fiscal year." The specifics on how the position will be consolidated and who will perform those duties is currently being "worked through." Crowell has been in his position for two years and Lloyd for about six years, total. Princeville Mayor Priscilla Everette-Oates was unavailable for comment. Lloyd was fired during Everette-Oates' first tenure as mayor four years ago. Lloyd is daughter of former Commissioner Carolyn Sharpe. Lloyd was hired back when Delia Perkins defeated Everette-Oates in the 2005 mayoral election. Crowell also was hired under the Perkins administration. "I don't understand what she is trying to do," Commissioner Ann Howell said. "We need those two positions. She said she was going to contract out the public works position. You can't do that. We need someone in public works at all times. It doesn't make any sense to me. "And the clerk is next to the town manager," Howell continued. "Right now (Lloyd) knows more than he does about the town's affairs. How could she get rid of her?" Howell said that Lloyd and Crowell were scheduled to receive a two-week notification but added that stipulations by the majority suggested that the employees final day was today and that they will receive two weeks pay. These two cuts come a little more than a month after the hiring of a new town manager and town attorney. Budget difficulties are blamed as the reason for the cuts to the two positions and they are also being blamed for the shortened hours at the Princeville Museum and Welcome Center. Linda Worsley, Interim Curator of the Museum and Welcome Center and former Commissioner was told that the Museum and Welcome Center will only be opened two days a week. She us unsure of the new days or the new hours but believes that this is a bad idea. "There is not a day that goes by that people don't come in," Worsley said. "As the weather is getting warmer, more people are dropping by. This is a bad time for the citizens and those who come by to learn about the first town incorporated by black people in America.. "This is a very bad time and I feel that it the town is cutting budgets, if the people running the town made less money, that would help," continued Worsley. "There was a $3000 retainer fee upon hiring the attorney out of Durham and the combined salaries of the town clerk and public works director was less than that of the town manager. The crunches are with those employed here instead of those who are being brought in from outside." Commissioners Howell and Gwendolyn Knight believe that the cuts stem from an investigation into the water bill of a Princeville resident that exceeded $800. Howell said that the mayor waived the customer's water bill and is allowing her to pay off the bill in monthly installments. Howell said that when she and Knight confronted Marrow, he said that he had direct orders from the mayor to keep the customer's water on. "The mayor does not have the kind of power to make that kind of decision. That is a board decision," Knight said. "Plus, that's not right. My bill is $100 a month and I can't get mine waived and I'm a commissioner. But this is not about me. I'm concerned about other citizens who get their water cutoff. If you do it for one, you have to do it for all." Prior to Evertte-Oates taking office, a representative from the state Local Government Commission advised the board that their water system must be able to operate without getting funds from another source and that the town must solicit all funds that are due from the town's water customers. "I don't think LGC is going to take this lightly," Howell said. "They are trying to undo everything positive in this town," Worsley said. "At this rate, the town is getting ready to go under." The Princeville Commissioners will hold their regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Monday night at the Town Hall.
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