Official: Hard to share information with absent Laurinburg mayor

By Mary Katherine Murphy - [email protected]

LAURINBURG — No sooner had the Laurinburg City Council’s work session opened on Tuesday than came a motion from council member J.D. Willis to adjourn it.

“I move that we suspend this meeting until the mayor is in attendance, to make sure that we are transparent,” Willis said, referring to a column by Mayor Matthew Block printed in Tuesday’s The Laurinburg Exchange.

In the column, Block said he intended to ask council to refrain from discussing city issues unless all five city council members and the mayor are present.

Though all city council members attended Tuesday’s work session, Block himself did not.

Since he was elected in early November, Block has yet to attend a single council meeting. He could have been sworn in on Dec. 22, but postponed until Jan. 26, missing two regular meetings and a work session in the process.

Since officially assuming the mayor’s role, Block has missed — in addition to Tuesday’s work session — a Jan. 28 special meeting to discuss exterior design options for the city hall and police station under consideration by city council.

“You need a second,” council member Curtis Leak pointed out after Willis’ motion.

“I know,” Willis said.

No second was made, and council proceeded with a brief meeting to iron out the agenda for its Feb. 16 regular meeting. During next week’s meeting, the Charlotte architecture firm tasked with designing a city hall will present the latest plans updated to reflect council input.

“Creech and Associates will be here to let council see the drawings and the outer changes to the parking lot and kind of see how everything fits on the design from council’s recommendations,” said City Manager Charles Nichols.

During last month’s special meeting, council suggested the parking lot be redrawn to provide a separate secured lot for Laurinburg Police Department vehicles.

Also next week, council is expected to authorize tax collector Diane Chavis to advertise tax liens in March.

Community development director Teddy Warner will provide updates on the sculpture garden scheduled for installation this year at the corner of Church and Main streets, the Scotland High School fruit orchard, and new flags, benches, and trash receptacles for the downtown area.

On Friday, council will meet at 2 p.m. at the Small Business Innovation Center in a retreat for the purpose of discussing the board’s roles and responsibilities. According to Nichols, Block has confirmed his attendance at that meeting.

Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.

By Mary Katherine Murphy

[email protected]

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