By Press Reporter: Shannon Taylor
At the June 6 City Board meeting Alderman Sandra Klutts put forward a resolution that passed 5-1, which included a misuse of the city’s funds by Washburn.
At the board meeting Alderman Anderson asked if they had stopped the design process for the municipal complex.
Washburn said, “It’s in limbo waiting for the board to make a decision.”
Anderson said, “We don’t need to spend any more money on designs until we actually own the land that we’re gonna put it on.”
Washburn stated that he agreed.
Alderman Lindal Dilday asked how much they had spent so far and Washburn stated that he did not know the answer to that. Finance Director Carla Edwards stated that, “We have been billed $81,000.00. and we have not yet paid that full amount.” Edwards stated that there were “a few designs made.”
Alderman Lyndal Dilday asked, “Why would we spend $81,000.00 worth of money on drawings for a building that we don’t even own the land on?”
Washburn stated that was a “good question.” He further stated that they had been given a budget for what it would be for design and that “personally I wasn’t aware that that money was being spent at that high of rate to this point.”
When Klutts put forth her resolution she stated, “When Mayor Washburn did spend money to hire an architectural firm to produce drawings of a proposed city complex before the city had acquired the land to build it on. After he learned that we were not going to acquire land for the property then he let the firm go ahead and give a second drawing and the cost for these drawings was around $80,000.00. These designs cost the city money that we did not have to spend at that time and have so many drawings done and now we still don’t have a drawing to proceed with the property that we may end up with so that means we will have to spend money to get another one done.” Klutts went on to say that Washburn has been wasteful with the city’s money and cited this as just one of the many reasons that her resolution asked for his resignation.
Washburn responded by stating that the alderman requested the drawings. “In regard to the second set or the third set of drawings – each of those requests were at the request of the city board that they be made. There had to be a starting point for proposals and that starting point was the first set of drawings. You may recall that alderman Anderson requested that we have a second set of drawings made to reflect some changes. We also had a set of drawings made to reflect a two-story set at the request of this board. In regard to that money – that money was a direct result of this board requesting those additional drawings to be made.”
Washburn is referring to board meetings where the architectural drawings were discussed by him and the board members multiple times at previous board meetings, however, no motions were ever made at any of those board meetings to vote on having the plans drawn up, nor was the cost of the drawings ever brought up by Washburn to inform the board members of what it would cost for each set of drawings going forward. The board of alderman never once, at any meeting voted on either the plans or the costs.
City recorder Jennifer Branscum was asked about this after the meeting to confirm whether or not there was ever a vote made by the board for the drawings or the costs and she responded with, “No, there was not. The drawings are on hold until the board can determine how much land we will acquire for the new building.”
Due to the 5-1 vote, the alderman implied that Washburn went forth on his own volition to have an architect draw up the plans—never once informing the board of the costs—knowing that the properties were not in the city’s possession yet, which has ended up costing the city thousands of dollars that could have been prevented.
Many residents including April Lieberman, former resident Jeniffer Green and Bobby Ray have either stated that they plan on calling the comptroller’s office or suggested that others do so to report the misuse of funds. Washburn stated on the Press’s Facebook page that “such a visit would be welcomed as they would find that and report that all actions have been requested and/or approved by the city board” suggesting again a board vote that never happened.
The total costs at this point is over $80,000.00 and that amount is expected to go up significantly when a final set of drawings is made after the final amount of property is determined. The board felt, in their 5-1 majority vote that Washburn misused funds, resulting in just part of the reason for the vote for his resignation which he has stated that he will not accept and plans to run for a third term regardless.