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Mayor asked to "do his job"; alderman storms out

One alderman storms out of the Tuesday night meeting of the Leadington Board of Aldermen, leaving the board without a quorum and forced to adjourn.

Tensions rose between the mayor, aldermen, and members of the community Tuesday night over charges on the city’s credit card. One alderman stormed out of the meeting leaving the board without a quorum.

The city of Leadington Board of Aldermen met for their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday night. The atmosphere of the meeting was tense from the beginning as aldermen, the mayor, and citizens were seeking answers to various credit card charges brought to light in recent months by Jesse James Rupp.

One citizen in particular, Cathy Manion, addressed the board about some very specific charges on the city’s credit card. Charges questioned included an Oct. 26, 2018 charge at El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant in the amount of $102.84, a Feb. 12 charge at Red Lobster in Jefferson City in the amount of $125.84, and several various charges for purchases on Amazon ranging from $23.99 to $97.09. A question was also raised for a charge for the mayor to stay at Double Tree Inn for one night in the amount of $205.36.

Mayor Dustin Winick reported that the purchase for Red Lobster was for a dinner while he was away at training. He said the cost was for himself and three other local city officials. Winick stated Amazon charges were used to buy office supplies.

Manion’s concern with these charges is that the city has an approximate budget deficit of $42,000 and stated that she didn’t feel that dinners costing over $100 were appropriate when such a deficit was present. The city’s per diem allowed cost for a meal is $25.

Winick blamed a decrease in revenue for the deficit including sales tax, utility tax, and a decrease in court revenue.

Another issue that the mayor asked for clarification on was who is actually “in charge” of city employees. Winick called on city attorney Mark Bishop to explain to the board the role of the mayor. Bishop advised the aldermen that as individuals they have no power.

“Board members only have the ability to approve and deny items as a whole group,” said Bishop.

The attorney advised the board that the mayor was the chief executive officer of the city and that it was his responsibility to oversee the day-to-day operations, supervise employees, provide performance appraisals, and advise the aldermen of things that need to be done in the city.

Mayor Winick made statements that the city had previously had a city clerk who had taken care of everything and that since she has been gone a great number of things have slipped through the cracks or fallen on him. Alderman Gary McKinney advised Winick that since he is the "CEO" he should do his job.

The city is currently short a street maintenance worker, a part-time city clerk, and will soon be looking for a new court clerk as well following the resignation of Cyndee McLeod. McKinney stated that Winick has not called a meeting to review applications and potentially hire for these positions.

The city is also putting out for bids once again for the position of city prosecutor and municipal judge. There will be a two-week window for local attorneys to submit their resumes and bids for these positions.

Alderman Misty Dean brought up the city’s new time clock system. Dean felt that the purchase of the new system was a waste of taxpayer dollars and that it should be sent back. Alderman Cassie Schrum attempted to explain to Dean that the time clock system was needed because the city had paid out too much overtime and also paid people for hours worked that were never actually worked. Dean got up at this point and walked out of the meeting.

City Attorney Bishop advised that because Alderman Debbie Matthews had left for a personal matter and Alderman Dean had left, the meeting had to adjourn because there was no longer a quorum.

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Matt McFarland is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616.

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