BOYCE — Small-town mayors sometimes have duties their counterparts in larger towns and cities never would have to handle.
In Boyce, for instance, the mayor not only must preside over council meetings and represent the town at public functions. He also is expected to mow the town hall’s backyard.
And, the council apparently has no intention of changing that practice.
With only about 600 residents, Boyce’s coffers are lean. The town currently has total assets of only about $419,000. It gets more combined annual revenue from sources such as state sales and communications taxes and bank franchise fees than it does from local real estate and personal property (vehicle) tax collections, Recorder Ruth Hayes pointed out during this week’s Town Council meeting.
The limited assets basically means the council has to closely monitor spending.
Boyce’s proposed budget for the new fiscal year that will start July 1 contains $600 to cover mowing at the municipal building on East Main Street. That is the amount of both bids that the council received for the task. One of the bids was from Mayor Richard Kibler, who lives nearby. The other was from former mayor Franklin Roberts, who mowed it in the past — before Kibler defeated him in last November’s election.
There’s no grass in front of the town hall. It’s all behind the building, and it’s not an extremely large backyard, Kibler noted.
One of the lengthier discussions at the council meeting was about the mowing situation, particularly who’s liable if, say, the mower throws a rock that breaks a neighbor’s window. Not being able to immediately determine that, officials plan to contact the town’s insurance provider to find out.
Councilman Dennis Hall made a motion to use the bidder who ultimately would agree to mow for the lowest price. Councilman Floyd Hudson seconded the motion so it could be discussed. Hudson suggested trying to recruit a teenager or someone else who would be willing to sign a statement releasing the town from liability if an accident occurs.
In the end, though, Hudson decided that “we set a precedent” for the mayor to be responsible for mowing by allowing Roberts to do it. He made a motion to accept Kibler’s bid as long as the insurance provider has no problem with the mayor doing the mowing.
“I have no problem awarding it to the current mayor because the past mayor done it,” Hudson said. He also was elected last fall and was not on the council when Roberts mowed.
Hall seconded that motion before the council gave its approval. He said that what Hudson said was what he was trying to say when he made his earlier motion.
After the meeting, Kibler said he intends to charge $30 per mowing, and he doesn’t anticipate having to mow the backyard 20 times this year — the number of times he would have to do it to be paid $600.