NEW ALBANY — There were several new faces and a new president at the first New Albany City Council meeting of 2020.
At Monday's meeting, the city council elected Bob Caesar, a Democrat who represents District 2, as president with a 6-3 vote. He replaces Scott Blair, an independent council member who represents District 6. Dr. Al Knable, a Republican at-large council member, was also nominated for council president.
Caesar said he is excited for the year ahead of him.
"The city is in really good shape and we're in a position to do some really great things that we've really not been able to accomplish before," he said. "We've accomplished small goals throughout our time here, but this is the first year that we can really look forward and do some pretty cool stuff, I think. I'm excited about the new year and the new decade both."
Caesar said continued paving projects, riverfront development and maintaining a balanced budget are among his goals, and he hopes to work together with the council "to keep New Albany moving."
"There have been so many successes for our community in recent years — parks that are used by all, parks that are clean and safe, the new city hall that we will be moving into in May or June, the new Marriott and more new development at [Daisy Summit], the Breakwater Apartments on Spring Street, the vibrant downtown that continues to grow," he said.
Greg Phipps, a Democrat who represents District 3, was elected as council vice president. The meeting also included three recently-elected members. Jason Applegate, a Democratic at-large council member, and Josh Turner, a Republican council member representing District 5, both took their seats for the first time Monday.
Democrat Jennie Collier, who represents District 1, took over the seat vacated by independent Dan Coffey, who represented the district for five-straight terms. She officially became a voting member at the Dec. 19 meeting.
A recent lawsuit against the City of New Albany was also addressed briefly at Monday's meeting. Three Floyd County residents sued the city in November for failing to provide requested public records that were submitted in August, and the city missed multiple deadlines to provide the requested documents.
A default judgement was issued by special judge Vicki Carmichael on Dec. 18 mandating the city to produce the documents no later than 10 days after the judgement and pay plaintiffs' attorney fees. One of the plaintiffs told the News and Tribune last week that the city had turned over the requested records, but did not know Monday if all the records had been turned over to his attorney.
Knable said he would like to see a simpler process for public records requests, and he has spoken with New Albany City attorney Shane Gibson about the issue.
"I'm just asking for a streamlined process on [public records requests], regardless of motivation or perceived motivation," he said. "We should have a way to get information for queries in a fast, timely manner... I don't think it should have ever gotten to a point where we had to have a lawsuit."