ne week after he made it clear he intends on pursuing a state audit to address what he says is wasteful government spending, Dearborn Alderman Bill Edwards entered city hall armed with plenty of numbers of his own.
The petition he is behind has more than the 89 signatures needed to force the audit (Edwards said he has more than 100), and a stack of papers that had his neatly written calculations was never too far from his side.
Edwards, one of the town’s four city council members, says he is specifically concerned with the employment contract of K.C. Davidson, who is guaranteed to be paid for 50 hours of work per week, with 10 hours at an overtime rate. In addition, the city employs Billy Clay Davidson for 40 contracted hours and Frank Dovel for another six. Edwards doesn’t think the city should be guaranteeing hours and questions if a city the size of Dearborn (Dearborn has 355 registered voters) can offer that kind of workload.
After failing to muster a quorum at their regularly scheduled meeting on June 14, the attention being paid to the issue (The Landmark featured Edwards’ story on the front page of its June 17 issue) led to considerable interest among the city’s residents. In all, 36 people were in attendance at the re-scheduled Monday meeting at the Dearborn City Hall.
Edwards began the meeting by opposing the city’s bills, warrants, financial statements and budget numbers, reasoning that if he favors an audit, approving the way the city spends its money would amount to his approval of their numbers.
After a lengthy discussion pertaining to the city’s planned sale of the Dean Memorial Park and former city waterworks, a sale that Edwards severely criticized because the city was planning on selling it below appraised value, Edwards launched into a lengthy explanation as to why he was seeking the audit.
Declaring that there isn’t enough work in the city and that nobody is signing proper forms for overtime hours to be worked, Edwards said the K.C. Davidson contract meant he would realize a 17.25 percent raise in pay in just 12 months. Edwards said at that rate, Davidson’s salary would double in five and half years.
“Let’s talk about what these new contracts are costing the City of Dearborn as of now,” Edwards said. “Six-thousand-fifty-two dollars and three cents a month, $72,624.36 a year. And on January 1, it will go up another $2,080.00 a year for $74,704.36 a year.”
Edwards also took issue with the “deferred compensation” being paid to Davidson at a cost of $8,725.92 a year. Deferred compensation is usually an elected amount of dollars placed in a separate retirement fund, such as a 401k.
“This has been going on for eight years plus,” Edwards alleged. “So that is over $70,000 in deferred compensation.”
Edwards reached all the way back to 1995, to detail how Billy Clay Davidson asked for four weeks sick pay.
“That was ok…” Edwards said, “…if it ended there. But it didn’t. The town council paid him overtime on the sick leave. Then, in the very same meeting, the employee said he had some unused vacation and he would like to get paid for it. And you know what? The town council paid this employee overtime on his vacation pay. Why would any town council give any employee sick leave before his vacation was used up?”
Edwards said he had urged the council to do something about these abuses for months but he was ignored.
“So don’t blame me for the state audit, blame the mayor and three aldermen (Robert Carroll, Donald Swanstone, and Lila Scrivener),” Edwards stated, adding he tried one last time to get the council to listen to him at the urging of Missouri State Auditor Claire McCaskill.
“I didn’t get to first base,” Edwards remarked. “So folks, there is going to be a state audit of Dearborn, and they will go back to square one, and it will be very interesting.”
After Edwards was finished, McAuley sought to offer him a response.
“The man has been here for 25 years,” McAuley said of Billy Clay Davidson. “If he opts to make a living on $10 an hour, and he wants the other $4 an hour that he makes…to go into (deferred) compensation, we’re not matching that.”
She said that however he chose to spend the money, it wouldn’t have any effect on what the city paid him, and she made it clear that she thought he was worth the money. McAuley said he worked 7 days a week, “filling up that water tower.” According to Dearborn City Clerk Susan Crowley, the 10 hours of overtime pay are for filling up the tower on weekends.
“Now, I think that man, after working 25 years, deserves $14 an hour.”
McAuley also attempted to justify the money K.C. Davidson and Dovel make, reasoning that the hours are necessary for the city’s park plans.
“The plan was, they would work on the city park,” McAuley said, reasoning that city employees would be far cheaper than contracting labor. She claimed the city’s compensation was well in line with the neighboring cities of Camden Point and Edgerton and that Dearborn has more amenities than those cities to take care of. Edwards didn’t look convinced.
Pulling out a piece of paper and holding it up for all to see as if he were a special prosecutor, he read a letter addressed to the Platte County Commission from the mayor. The letter, a cover sheet to the city’s successful Park Outreach Grant application, outlined the city’s intent to seek matching funds for the Memorial Park project, stated that the city planned on using two city employees at 900 hours of labor in the process. The letter also stated that the city would take records and provide timesheets for their work.
Edwards then made emphasis on the last line of the letter, which said, “this will still allow half of their working hours to be dedicated to the city.” This didn’t sit well with Edwards, who used the letter to bolster his claim that there isn’t enough work for the city employees. All the city needed, the letter showed, was 48 hours of labor each week and not 96.
“It says it right here, in black and white,” he said, shaking the letter at the assembly for effect.
“Are you stating that you don’t want the city employees to work on the city park?” she asked . Edwards said he wasn’t saying that.
“I’m just saying that you all said all we needed was 48 hours.”
McAuley said that the park project would only be needed to be worked on for an indefinite period of time, justifying their work there.
“You all will never change it,” Edwards yelled.
At this point, Alderman Carroll stepped into the debate, saying, “Point of order, Sir?” This silenced Edwards for a moment, who sat back, crossing his arms.
“We knew that their hours would be adjusted when the park was finished,” Carroll pointed out. He said that if they needed to work 48 hours in the park and 48 hours in the city each week for a total of 96 hours, “then so be it. It’s cheaper than contract labor to do it that way.”
McAuley pointed out that city employees could go toward matching grant funds and that contract labor would not.
Edwards disregarded the remarks and pressed on, saying that the city was transferring $25,000 out of its general fund to go to a parks project under the scenario he described. He said the deal would make the City of Dearborn “big losers.”
“And you’re upset over a $4,000 audit?” he asked.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” McAuley said. She said that the money would be used as salaries. “You can transfer money from the general account to the park account.”
Edwards said the city had no plans to put the money back.
“If we’re getting matching funds (from the county), why would we put it back?” McAuley asked. “Are you saying that the City of Dearborn’s putting up $22 –25,000 in labor to get matching funds…that there’s something improper about that?”
By far, the biggest fireworks came during a discussion of a letter sent to the residents of Dearborn on June 4.
That letter, which was paid for by the city after a secret aldermen phone vote (City Clerk Susan Crowley admitted there was no public notice for the vote), stated that the city was concerned of the price of the audit, but not the audit itself. Edwards believes it will be money well spent because if changes are made in overtime pay, the city will recoup the money in about 4 months time. Edwards did have a problem with the letter, however, claiming that he was purposely left out of the loop.
“I told you the letter was down here,” McAuley said, raising her voice. “You said you were not going down here and looking at it.”
“I did not tell you that…”
“Yes, you did.”
“…and my recording on my phone will prove that,” Edwards said.
Both McAuley and Edwards began to shout back and forth at one another, each claiming that they had witnesses to the conversation, but never making clear what the point of the conversation truly was. As spectators looked on, Alderman Carroll tried to move the meeting along.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Carroll interjected, raising his voice above the din. “I would like to carry on with city business.”
Edwards then shook a paper at Carroll, saying, “You’ve got your name in this, too. So we’ll carry on with that then.”
Carroll ignored him, asking what was on the agenda next, but Edwards said after the meeting that he knows what’s next for him. He plans on pursuing the question over overtime pay and making sure that the audit is conducted. He said he is certain that he has the ear of the people in the matter.
“There were a few people who told me they didn’t want to sign it at first,” Edwards admitted. “But after they (McAuley and the aldermen) came out with their little letter, a bunch of people called me and told me to come get their signature