Who’s got the money?

Published 5:08 pm Thursday, March 21, 2019

At Tuesday night’s Middlesboro City Council meeting, several items on the agenda were read and approved by members of the council but before the meeting was adjourned, Mayor Nelson opened the floor up to the public for any questions or comments.

Informed and concerned citizen Patsy Sullivan stepped up to the microphone.

“I’m not raising cane this time, sorry I lost my cool last time,” Sullivan explained. “We’re hiking up the garbage and sewer. I and a lot of other citizens, we like helping our city and doing our part and I know we are in a bind but…we want accountability.”

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Sullivan explained that she has met with several others citizens, and they want to know what the council is going to do about solving the financial burden on Middlesboro.

“We want those monies found,” Sullivan said. “We want people held accountable for it. We don’t mind paying our part, but those monies got gone and we want someone held accountable for it. I was nominated to know what you all are going to do about it.”

Middlesboro Mayor Rick Nelson spoke up.

“First of all, I’ve not seen any evidence, or unless you can bring us some, that any money is actually missing,” Nelson said.

Sullivan pointed out that Mayor Nelson was the one that said there was around $300,000 missing.

“No, I never said that, I said we’ve got over half a million dollars unpaid,” Nelson responded. “That doesn’t mean the money was stolen.”

“Did I say that?” Sullivan replied. “I said I wanted accountability for what is gone, I said, I want accountability, it’s not just me.”

Nelson explained to Sullivan and the audience that there is a copy of the bills available every month.

“We have a copy of the bills,” he said. “You can look at it, and also we have a running budget total that shows every dime that is spent and how much money is left.”

The mayor reiterated that it is a good tool for himself and the council to have available.

“Everybody knows that money was coming in and bills weren’t getting paid,” Sullivan said. “Where’s the bill money for taxes that weren’t collected and us paying our garbage bills and our sewer bills and stuff. Why weren’t they paid? The people want to know.”

Sullivan pointed out that on the current council there are a few who sat on the former council, and she directed her question to them.

Councilman Bo Green took the microphone and to answer Sullivan’s question.

“I can tell you from a council position that we presented bills, and we approved them and after that. We never got told they weren’t getting paid until Mayor Nelson came in,” Green explained. “And what I did, I had concerns, I decided to run for mayor, and I ran against Mayor Nelson. I can tell you from being on this council again that he is working with the council and working hard to figure out how to make the finances work.”

Sullivan reiterated that she was not talking about what was going on with the current council.

“I know that every one of you is working hard to straighten this thing out, but I’m talking about the things that were not worked out in the past,” she said. “People want to know where this went and why the bills weren’t paid.”

Mayor Nelson explained that they are working to get all the audits completed and up to date.

“I looked at 2014, 15, and 16, I really couldn’t tell a lot about it, but 16, 17 and 18 we might be able to tell more about those,” Nelson said. “There may not have been enough money brought in to pay the bills. I mean that is a possibility. I’m looking forward to seeing the audits and seeing what it says.”

“The one thing we tried to do is get an audit done,” Green responded. “Mayor Nelson and this council are committed to getting it done. The council did everything in their power to get the audits done and get the information. If we didn’t adopt a new budget for the next year, the budget would have fallen back to the previous year. Every year we adopted a budget, it was less than the previous year.”

The next regular meeting of the Middlesboro City Council will be held April 16 at 7:00 in the City Council chambers of Middlesboro City Hall.