Craig Harris/Macon County Times Red Boiling Springs City Council member Lee Butram left last Thursday evening's council meeting before it began after mayor Kenneth Hollis requested that his 8-year-old daughter, who was sitting in Butram's lap, go sit in the crowd.

Craig Harris/Macon County Times

Red Boiling Springs City Council member Lee Butram left last Thursday evening's council meeting before it began after mayor Kenneth Hollis requested that his 8-year-old daughter, who was sitting in Butram's lap, go sit in the crowd.

Red Boiling Springs City Council member Lee Butram's 8-year-old daughter, Emily, has accompanied him to council meetings for two years, but last Thursday evening, the two found themselves on the other side of the door before proceedings began.

"(RBS Mayor Kenneth Hollis) said my daughter needed to take a seat in the crowd instead of in my lap," Butram said, noting that he brings her to meetings to look after her as a single father with custody. "He only has a problem with her sitting there if there's an item on the agenda he knows I have an issue with."

Butram said that he has attended three council meetings since Hollis was sworn in as mayor and believes that Hollis has asked his daughter to sit in the crowd during two of them.

Hollis declined to comment on the situation.

"Everyone knows that if Emily's not welcome, I'm not welcome, and I think that's his way of removing my vote against him," Butram said. "He knew if she was uncomfortable sitting in the crowd by herself, I'd have to leave with her, but the first time it happened there was a family friend in the crowd."

Butram refused to have his daughter sit in the crowd for last Thursday's meeting and said that the decision is not supported by the city's charter, at which point the two were removed from the room.

The agenda items Butram opposed included a motion to place RBS Police Chief Kevin Woodard on salary and another to cut the Black Hawk insurance account used by city employees.

"(Even if my vote wouldn't change the outcome), I think my voice could change some minds," Butram said. "I would have wanted to ask why the police chief's pay isn't going to be in line with the previous one, and with the Black Hawk account, they're going to lose good employees by cutting benefits."

During the meeting, the council took steps toward repairing the city's damaged roadways and expanding access to water.

"They gave me approval to try and borrow up to $200,000 through one of the (local) banks," Hollis said. "We think we'll be able to repair a majority of the streets in need (if we receive that funding)."

The council also approved a bid of $133,000 that will see Kemp Brothers Construction extend water lines on Taurus Farm Road, a project estimated to impact 20 residences.

In addition, the council approved to place Woodard on a salary pay schedule and voted to cut the Blackhawk account in favor of the city handling insurance in-house.

"(Woodard) and the clerks are now on salary," Hollis said. "The police chief had quite a bit of overtime ... over 170 hours since January. The clerk's office was about 2-3 hours a week. It's really about getting our budgets in order and making sure we know what we have available."

The decision to cut the Blackhawk account was also based on budgeting, and Hollis said that the city has experienced frequent abuse of the account's debit card system.

"Instead of having a debit card, which employees can use to by groceries or gas, anything that deals with medical treatment will require a receipt," Hollis said. "(With the Blackhawk account), you get $100 a month, and people had been buying everything with them."

Hollis expects the new system to take effect after the council's August meeting, along with a finalized amount that will be available to employees. The council discussed allowing employees to hold up to $3,600 over a 36-month period.

The Red Boiling Springs City Council's next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 8 at Red Boiling Springs City Hall.