BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER— The city of Maumee has hired an outside legal firm to investigate possible misappropriation of public funds.
The action, proposed by council member John Boellner, took place near the conclusion of the August 4 meeting.
“Concerns have been raised about various transactions. It is important that these concerns be reviewed by an independent, experienced law firm to ensure that all of these concerns are objectively reviewed and properly resolved to ensure a complete and fair investigation,” Boellner said. He did not elaborate on what those concerns are.
According to city administrator John Jezak, the outside legal counsel has advised those in favor of the action to withhold commenting until the attorneys are engaged in the process and meet with city council in executive session.
“The reason for that is to ensure that it is an ethical investigation and (provides) the protection of all those involved,” said Jezak. “This is a serious matter and they would advise us to cooperate with their directive.”
By a vote of 4-3, council approved allocating $50,000 to hire the law firm Squire, Patton and Boggs to conduct a compliance review of the budget. In addition to Boellner, council members Dave Kissinger, Scott Noonan and Tom Wagener also voted in favor of the proposal. Council members Tracey Elmore, Brent Buehrer and Tim Pauken opposed it.
The request came as a surprise to some council members who did not know the proposal would be presented since it was not on the agenda.
“First of all, I don’t like something like this dropped in my lap and then I’m expected to vote,” said Pauken. “Especially to the tune of $50,000. I would like time to research this and find out what’s going on before I make a decision.”
Pauken asked that the motion be tabled until the next council meeting, but that motion fell.
Maumee Mayor Richard Carr did not believe the action was carried out in an appropriate manner.
“We have staff meetings to go through this and we have legislation brought before council tonight without this ever being discussed at a staff meeting,” Carr said. “I don’t believe this is proper.”
Buehrer agreed. “I can say without reservation that in my 21 years on Maumee City Council I have never seen something handled so poorly as I have tonight,” he said.
While no further comments were made regarding reasons for requesting the proposal, this past June, council voted in favor of asking the state auditor to review the practice of using city dollars to maintain the East Mews parking lot, which is owned by St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. At the time, Boellner requested the action and council members voted in favor of it with the exception of Buehrer, who abstained from voting on the issue due to a conflict of interest. That audit has not been completed.