PARROTTSVILLE—The Town of Parrottsville held a special called meeting Friday morning to approve the town’s 2019-20 budget.
The budget passed by a 2-1 vote after and lengthy and sometimes heated discussion.
As the budget discussions began, Commissioner Ronnie Hommel told the board and those in attendance that he could not support the budget.
“We have not had one audit returned in four years of this administration,” Hommel said. “This is not our money. We are spending it for the people of this town, and we should be spending it wisely. We need to go by what our charter says all the time and not when it’s convenient.
“It’s time for the mayor and this council to be held accountable for their actions,” Hommel said.
Town Attorney Jeff Greene said Rodefer Moss & Co. is performing the past audits, but they have not presented their findings to the town.
Hommel questioned the $15,000 price tag for Rodefer Moss to handle the bookkeeping services for the town starting on July 1.
Greene said it is taking longer than expected to receive the audits, but if Rodefer Moss can’t perform the task, then the town should find someone else to do the job.
“The accountants have everything they need. It’s a mess, but they have it,” Greene said. “They just haven’t put everything together in the form on an audit. They’ve not done their job to this point. They need to tell us if they can’t figure things out so that we can move forward.”
Hommel went on to question the ability of Town Recorder Jayne Ann Ragan.
He suggested getting a new recorder who could, “Help figure this out.”
Mayor Dewayne Daniel came to Ragan’s defense saying the audit process has changed in recent years. The town now has three books for all its financials.
He also noted a continued finding on the audit reports is the lack of internal controls.
The auditors and state have said that Parrottsville needs another “set of eyes” to look at their books.
Daniel said by hiring Rodefer Moss as bookkeepers they could satisfy that need. He thinks this is the best move given the town’s current situation. He noted that next year the town could possibly hire another individual to help Ragan with the everyday duties and financials.
Hommel again stated that he couldn’t support a budget that he played no role in creating.
“I didn’t have a hand in this budget,” Hommel said. “I haven’t voted to support previous budgets, and I’m not voting for this one.”
Commissioner Thad Balch made a motion to approve the budget before most of the discussions began.
Mayor Daniel provided a second to the motion, which passed 2-1, with Hommel being the no vote.
The 2019-20 budget features no major increases other than the bookkeeping line item. That will be slightly mitigated moving forward as the town expects future audits costs to drop. Current estimates show an expected $9,000 savings. The town will need to find a new auditing service once Rodefer Moss takes over as bookkeepers.
Other matters discussed during the meeting included a part-time maintenance position, repairs to the pump station near East Tennessee Metal and the delinquent sewer bills that have plagued the town for years.
Attorney Greene showed the board 15 of the highest amounts owed from sewer customers. He said he is prepared to move forward with lawsuits against the individuals. Judgments or liens would be placed on properties until the bills are paid.
“It would cost us $2,500 in filing fees to collect on these 15 accounts,” Greene said. “It’s the only way to collect from these individuals. We place a judgment against them or their property, and they can have their day in court.”
Commissioner Hommel looked through the 15 bills noting that two individuals owed $6,000 in back payments for sewer services and several others were over the $1,000 mark.
He made a motion to send certified letters to the individuals to give them one final opportunity to pay their bills. The motion passed unanimously.
Before the end of the meeting Mayor Daniel spoke briefly about the town’s Annual Fireworks Showcase.
The event will take place on Saturday, July 6.
The council will also hold a regularly scheduled meeting on July 4 at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.