Outgoing councilman says $2,200 missing from Perryville property taxes

Published 7:21 pm Friday, November 9, 2018

PERRYVILLE — Outgoing Perryville City Council member Paul Webb seemed to throw the rest of the Perryville City Council and the mayor for a loop Thursday evening when he asked to go into executive session over $2,200 in missing city funds.

Webb said he had contacted Kentucky State Auditor Mike Harmon after a former, long-time clerk for the city — who filled in after the last clerk was fired — told him about the missing money.

“I contacted Harmon … since Mona (Followell) confirmed to me that there was $2,200 missing, besides the other incidents that we had issues with. So, I think we need to go into executive session to discuss this,” Webb said. “And I think it’s under KRS 61.810(c) — discussions of proposed or pending litigation against or on behalf of the public agency.”

Email newsletter signup

Mayor Anne Sleet asked City Attorney Winfield Frankel, “Can we do that?”

“He’s cited the statute correctly …” Frankel said.

The council was in executive session for roughly 20 minutes. Sleet announced no action was taken after returning to adjourn.

After the meeting, Frankel would only say there is an investigation. “That’s all we can say about it at this point. That there’s an ongoing investigation.”

Friday morning, Webb said he wanted to bring the issue up in an open meeting to find out more about the missing funds. “I was just following up. The mayor had stated on record during a past meeting that it was a mess down at city hall,” Webb said. He said after that happened, he stopped in to see Mona Followell, and was told $2,200 was missing from property taxes.

Followell, the former 27-year veteran clerk, was brought back in mid-August to fill in when clerk Amy Vonlinger was terminated after roughly 10 months on the job. Vonlinger was hired in October 2017 to replace Bill Chance, who resigned shortly after being hired for the clerk position when Followell retired.

Vonlinger was fired early in August of this year. Mayor Sleet said at the time that “it wasn’t a good fit,” and that the job “may have just been more than what she thought it would be.”

During the August meeting, when asking the council for approval to bring Followell back in, Sleet referenced “a mess” at city hall, and said there were “bad conditions” that needed to be cleaned up. When asked after the meeting to elaborate, Sleet said “we need to get things back on track before we hire anyone. We have to make sure every ‘t’ is crossed and every ‘i’ is dotted.”

“I’m concerned about our financial statements,” Webb said Friday. He said the issue has been known about for two months, and “nothing’s been said to the council about anything. It hasn’t been brought up since September, at least not in a quorum.”

Webb said if there have been any other findings regarding Followell’s research into the city’s books, the council has not been apprised of it. “I wanted to know where it stood. The citizens have every right to know what’s going on with their tax dollars. I don’t want to hinder any investigation, but they have a right to know there are some issues. And a few council members, at least, want to make sure that this is being handled in a timely manner.”

Webb just lost the election for Perryville mayor to fellow council member Brian Caldwell.

“I’m not disgruntled; it has nothing to do with that. I’m just doing my job. That’s what I was elected to do,” Webb said. He said because the incident happened “under my term in office, I didn’t feel comfortable not knowing any updates. It’s important to get it resolved before I leave, and it’s not fair for the new council to deal with or understand the scope of this issue.”

When asked what “other incidents” Webb was referring to when he asked to go into executive session, he said he could not elaborate.

When reached for comment Friday, Caldwell said, “I will defer to what Winfield said — there’s an ongoing investigation.”

Mayor Sleet said she didn’t know what else to say about the situation. “There’s nothing else I can tell you; I don’t know of anything at this point,” she said.

Webb said he will bring the issue back up again during the December meeting.

“I have faith in Winfield. It’s an ongoing investigation, like he said, and he will protect the city and do what’s necessary to figure out what’s happened with the missing money.”