“I know even that won’t keep us from tripping up sometimes, but we just want to try to get the best possible candidate,” said Mayor Alberta McCrory, prior to Monday’s council meeting.
A Calhoun County grand jury indicted the town’s former clerk, Shelia Jones, last month for theft of property, a felony. Jones is set for arraignment Dec. 19 .
According to the grand jury indictment, Jones stole between $500 and $2,500 from Hobson City sometime between Feb. 1 and Aug. 2.
McCrory told The Star in August that Jones used her position as clerk to avoid paying garnishments of her own wages. Court records show Jones’s wages were ordered garnished to pay a $4,500 judgment in a 2008 lawsuit filed by a landlord for unpaid rent.
McCrory said Jones violated the terms of her probationary employment agreement when she turned herself in to Calhoun County Sheriff’s deputies Aug. 7, after being charged with tampering with government records and obstructing government operations. Because of that violation, the Town Council did not need to vote to fire Jones, who was hired on a temporary basis in November 2012.
Based on an initial background check when Jones was hired, McCrory said the town considered requesting a more thorough background check, but never did.
Lori Lein, general counsel for the Alabama League of Municipalities, said the league does not make recommendations to cities regarding the use of background checks, but they do answer questions if a problem arises.
“We might do some individual advice to them if they call in and inquire about the legalities of some of that, but we don’t have a recommendation as to whether or not to do them,” Lein said.
Asked if municipalities are banned from not hiring someone based on certain criminal charges, Lein said she could not say for certain.
“I think it’s probably going to be position-dependent,” Lein said.
For example, cities may refrain from hiring a candidate who has previous theft charges if the position involves handling money, Lein said.
In other business, the council:
— Agreed to pay Patton Roofing $4,600 to repair the leaking roof of the town’s gymnasium.
— Renewed the town’s municipal insurance policy with the Anniston-based insurance company Insurance Planning for a total annual cost of approximately $28,000. That cost is an increase of about $2,700 from last year, McCrory said.
— Approved $98 in travel expenses for McCrory to attend the Satcher Health Leadership Institute in Atlanta. Located at Morehouse College, the institute aims to eliminate disparities in health among underserved populations, according to the institutes website.
The council will hold a workshop at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Town Hall to discuss the town’s 2013 budget. The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 30 at 6:30 p.m.
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.