It is time to speak out. I have been quiet during this election campaign, but after listening to the recent debate it is time to put the record straight.
The Mayor said when he took over as mayor the books were in terrible shape. So what does the Mayor do? He hires four more employees, gives $10,000 to the railroad, spends $65,000 dollars for a pickup truck for the police department, gives approximately $10,000 to Main Street Association and gives 12% raise to two employees, one of whom is still on probation. Then the Mayor wants a raise and wants to get paid through consulting fees that are not legal (MCA 7-3-4255, MCA 7-3-4256).
The Mayor had a closed meeting at his hotel with two Town Council members which is not legal (MCA 7-3-4221). Audits have not been done for three years which are required annually (MCA 2-7-503). Two months after the last election with the help of the newly elected council members, the Town gave Main Street Association $6,000. Funny thing is, the new Council members are members of the Main Street Assn. Paul Ludington who is running against incumbent Robin Holcomb to represent Ward 1 is President of the Main Street Assn. Do you think there is an effort here to save Main Street funding?
The Mayor recommended paying overtime to two of the administrative staff which is a violation of Town Policy (Town employees may only get comp time, see Town Policy Manual).
How does the Mayor plan to pay for all this? He wants to put all of the enterprise funds (water and sewer accounts) in one pot and pay the bills. He cannot do this. MCA 7-3-4330 states the only expenses to be paid from the enterprise funds have to be related to either the water or sewer systems.
He accomplishes all this while the books were in bad shape and no audit. He calls this proven leadership and good management?
In all the years that I worked for the Town, the Bitterroot Star has been the watchdog for reporting mistakes and misconduct by the Town and County. Since the new Mayor and Council have been serving, I have not found the same intense investigation in spite of closed meetings and no recording of budget meetings.
In this year’s Town budget, website maintenance 87 hours annually at $17.25 per hour without competitive bidding, $25,000 for Town Hall improvements, $2,700 for printing notices in the Star, professional services (Stevensville Main Street Assn., item 350) $2,000, professional services (Mayor’s consulting fees, item 357) $3,500 and paying Reserve Officers for the Police Department $1,200.
Did I mention that Victoria Howell, co-owner of the Bitterroot Star, is a member and strong supporter of the Main Street Association?
My Council did not give Main Street Association any money on the advice of two Town Attorneys. Stevensville did give $2,000 as the Town matching funds for the Main Street improvement project.
Both the Mayor and Mr. Ludington made a comment about our employees during the debate (being retired standing in place). Just for the record, when I was Mayor I asked our employees to work short handed. The Street and Sewer Departments worked 20 months one employee short, the Police Department worked two employees short and Administrative worked one employee short. They did not get a raise, they did a great job, never said a word. So much for being retired in place or lazy. It is insulting to all of our hardworking employees.
In closing I have tried to do my public service with one guiding motto, “What’s right is right and wrong is wrong, and it is not too hard to tell the difference.”
Please vote for Clayton Floyd, Robin Holcomb and Jim Crews.
Editor’s Note: A number of the laws cited in the above letter have been misapplied. For example,
MCA 7-3-4255 does not apply to Stevensville’s form of government, which is commission/executive (MCA 7-3-201) and compensation of the mayor and council is determined by the council (MCA 7-4-4201).
MCA 7-3-4256 relates to conflicts of interest and prohibits elected officials from entering into a contract with the Town in which they may personally benefit. However, MCA 7-5-4109 gives the council the authority to waive the prohibition.
MCA 7-3-4221(b) states that for cities having a mayor and four council members, three council members constitutes a quorum. This is also stated on page 30 of the Montana Municipal Officials Handbook, which states: “A city or town council of four members requires the physical presence of at least three of its members (not including the mayor) to constitute a quorum.” In addition, an Attorney General’s Opinion confirms that under Stevensville’s form of government, the council does not have the authority to change the number required to constitute a quorum.
And MCA 7-3-4330, cited above, was repealed.